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"And  are  you  really  and  truly  a  fool?'    asked  Tom, 
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TOM    PLAYFA1R; 


OR 


MAKING  A  START. 

1 


BY 

RRANCIS    J.    KINN,    S.J., 

Author  of  "  Percy  Wynn,"  "  Harry  Dee,"  etc. 


TWELFTH     EDITION. 


NEW   YORK,    CINCINNATI,    CHICAGO: 

BENZIGER    BROTHERS, 

Printers  to  the  Holy  Apostolic  See. 


!  PUBLIC  LIBRARY 

710  $ 

I  •JIRSVOR,  LENOX  AND 
JTILDEN  FOUNDATIONS 
R  1921  L 


FATHER  FINN'S   BOOKS. 

The  Most  Popular  Catholic  Story  Books  Published. 


His  FIRST  AND  LAST  APPHARANCB.  With  original 
drawings  by  Charles  Svendsen.  8vo,  cloth, 
handsomely  bound,  i-oo 

"  The  finest  Catholic  story-book  published.'' 

TOM  PLAYFAIR;  or,  Making  a  Start.  With  a  Fron- 
tispiece, lamo,  cloth,  85 

PERCY  WYNN  ;  or,  Making  a  Boy  of   Him.     With  a 

Frontispiece,     lamo,  cloth,       85 

HARRY  DEE  ;  or,  Working  It  Out.  With  a  Frontis- 
piece. i2mo,  cloth, 85 

CLAUDB    LIGHTFOOT  ;    or.   How  the    Problem  was 

Solved.     With  a  Frontispiece.     iamo,  cloth,      .      .85 

ETHELRHD  PRESTON  ;  or,  The  Adventures  of  a  New- 
comer. With  a  Frontispiece.  lamo,  cloth,  ,  .85 

THAT    FOOTBALL    GAME  :    and    What   Came   of    It. 

With  a  Frontispiece.     12010,  cloth 85 

THE  BEST  FOOT  FORWARD.    With  a  Frontispiece. 

i2ruo,  cloth, 85 

MOSTLY  BOYS.     Short  Stories,     iamo,  cloth,      ...      .85 


COPYRIGHT,  1851,  BY  BBNZIGRR  BROTHBHS. 


PREFACE. 


vicissitudes  of  the  "Tom  Playfair  "  manu- 
I  script  would  alone  make  a  story.  How  it 
was  written  over  seven  years  ago,  for  the  sake  of  a 
college  class,  and  with  no  ulterior  thought  of  publi- 
cation; how  portions  of  it  gradually  found  their 
way  into  print;  how  the  writer  hesitated  for  years 
whether  to  consign  the  remaining  parts  to  the  book 
publisher  or  to  the  waste-basket;  how  the  cordial 
reception  of  "  Percy  Wynn, "  and  the  kind  words  con- 
cerning "  Tom  Playfair"  from  critics  and  from  read- 
ers inspirited  him  to  take  the  venerable  manuscript 
— done  at  all  manner  of  odd  times,  in  lead  pencil 
and  ink,  upon  all  sorts  and  conditions  of  paper — 
from  his  trunk,  and  subsequently  devote  no  small 
part  of  his  vacation  days  (July,  August,  1891)  to  its 
revisal;  how  the  valued  advice  and  kind  words  of 
literary  friends  served  him  in  the  revision — are  not 
all  these  things  indelibly  impressed  upon  the  author's 
memory  ? 

And  now  he  ventures  to  offer  this  story  to  the 
boys  and  girls  of  the  land,  in  the  hope  that  it  may 
afford  them  healthful  pleasure. 

Advancing  the  figure  learnedly  styled  hysteron- 
proteron  from  sentences  to  volumes,  he  has  published 

3 


4  PREFACE. 

1  Percy  Wynn '  first,  although  Percy's  adventures 
are  subsequent  to  Tom's.  The  reason  for  this  pro- 
cedure may  be  gathered  from  what  has  been  said  of 
the  "Tom  Playfair"  manuscript. 

St.  Maure's  is  a  pseudonym  for  a  certain  college 
in  the  West.  Besides  inventing  incidents,  the 
author,  to  suit  his  purpose,  has  on  occasion  taken 
liberties  with  the  local  surroundings;  but  in  the 
main  he  has  adhered  to  the  prototype. 

It  is  almost  needless  to  say  that  the  real  college 
never  suffered  from  the  effects  of  a  thunderbolt ;  in 
fact,  the  "cupola,"  upon  which  turns  a  catastrophe 
recorded  in  these  pages,  was  erected,  not  by  an  archi- 
tect, but  by  a  few  strokes  of  the  pen. 

Near  this  Western  college  there  is  a  village — a 
thriving,  happy  community.  This  village  the  au- 
thor has  eliminated  from  these  stories.  The  village 
of  St.  Maure's,  which  takes  its  place,  is  a  fiction. 

In  drawing,  with  certain  necessary  reserves,  upon 
his  three  years'  experience  at  this  Western  college, 
the  author  has,  perhaps,  made  too  little  of  one  strik- 
ing feature — the  manly  piety  of  the  students.  In  all 
his  experiences  there  he  could  count  upon  his  fingers 
those  who,  while  in  attendance,  had  evidently 
changed  for  the  worse;  and  they  were  marked 
exceptions. 

It  is  hard  upon  seven  years  since  the  writer  last 
saw  "  St.  Maure's. "  Then  it  was  just  on  this  side  of 
its  pioneer  days.  Now  it  is  a  college  with  a  history 
of  which  it  may  well  be  proud.  The  "  old  church 
building,"  the  little  boys'  dormitory  and  wash- 
room, the  long,  low  frame  structure  used  as  an  in- 
firmary, are  gone;  new  and  nobler  piles  have  arisen 


PREFA  CE.  5 

in  their  place  so  that  the  college  of  to-day,  as  Peg- 
gotty  remarked,  I  believe,  of  her  nephew,  Ham,  has 
u  growed  out  of  knowledge " ;  and  yet  the  sweet 
spirit  of  faith  and  prayer  has  abided  unchanged 
amid  all  changes. 

The  author  has  not  seen  these  changes  he  is 
blessed  in  believing.  Nor  can  he  doubt,  aside  from 
all  testimony,  that  the  same  spirit  pervades  them 
all.  The  Dialy  a  college  paper  conducted  by  the 
students,  reaches  him  every  month;  and  he  can  read 
in  the  lines  and  between  the  lines  that  the  college 
of  to-day  and  the  college  of  seven  years  ago  are  one 
in  that  closest  and  most  sacred  ot  moral  unions — a 
true,  devout,  Catholic  spirit. 

FRANCIS  J.  FINN,  S.  J. 
October  ig,  z8gi. 


CONTENTS. 


PAGE 

PREFACE,       .........  3 

CHAPTER    I. 

In  which  the  hero  of  the  story  is  represented  in  doubtful 

light,       .........  II 

CHAPTER    II. 

In  which  Tom  by  a  series  of  misadventures  brings  down  the 
wrath  of  his  father  in  such  wise  that  the  author,  for  fear 
of  forfeiting  Tom's  chances  of  becoming  a  hero  in  the 
reader's  eyes,  discreetly  veils  what  actually  happened 
when  justice  was  administered,  .  .  .  .  17 

CHAPTER    III. 

In  which  Tom  leaves  for  St.  Maure's,  and  finds  on  the  road 

thither  that  fun  sometimes  comes  expensive,    .         .  28 

CHAPTER    IV. 

Tom  arrives  at  St.  Maure's  and  makes  the  acquaintance  of 
John  Green  under  circumstances  not  entirely  grateful  to 
that  interesting  character, 41 

CHAPTER    V. 

In  which  Tom  is  persuaded  to  go  to  sleep,     .         .         .  57 

CHAPTER    VI. 

In  which  Green  and  Tom  run  a  race  which  proves  disastrous 

to  both,   .,,.,,,,,  65 


8  CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER  VII. 

PAGE 

In  which  Tom  usurps  minor  orders  with  startling  results,  72 

CHAPTER   VIII. 

In  which  Tom  gets  into  many  difficulties,  and  holds  an 

astonishing  interview  with  Mr.   Middleton,       .         .  80 

CHAPTER    IX. 
In  which  Tom  concludes  that  vinegar  never  catches  flies,  94 

CHAPTER    X. 

In  which  Tom  gives  Green  a  bit  of  advice,  which,  aided 

by  a  storm,  is  not  without  its  effect,        ...  98 

CHAPTER    XI. 

The  night  of  the  first  Friday  in  November,     .         .         .         no 

CHAPTER  XII. 
Tom's  midnight  adventure, 119 

CHAPTER   XIII. 
In  which  Tom  takes  a  trip 125 

CHAPTER    XIV. 

In  which  Tom  goes  to  the  theatre,         .         .         .         .         130 

CHAPTER    XV. 
In  which  Tom  is  lost,     ...         ....         134 

CHAPTER    XVI. 
In  which  Tom  enters  upon  a  career  of  extravagance,       .         146 

CHAPTER    XVII. 
In  which  the  prodigal  returns,         .  .        .        , 


CONTENTS.  9 

CHAPTER    XVIII. 

PAGE 

In  which  Tom  astonishes  and  horrifies  his  aunt,     .         .         164 

CHAPTER    XIX. 
In  which  Tom  and  Keenan  hold  a  council  of  war,  .         178 

CHAPTER   XX. 

Storming    of   the    snow-fort — Mr.    Beakey    talks   at  cross 

purposes  with  the  senior  students,    ....         184 

CHAPTER    XXI. 

In  which  Tom  meets  with  a  bitter  trial,          .         .         .         195 

CHAPTER    XXII. 

In  which  Tom  wins   a   new   friend   and   hea       a   strange 

story, 201 

CHAPTER    XXIII. 
In  which  the  "  Knickerbockers"  play  the  "Red  Clippers,"         212 

CHAPTER    XXIV. 
Trouble  ahead, 217 

CHAPTER    XXV. 

A  joyous  going  forth,  and  a  sad  journey  home,      .         .         224 

CHAPTER    XXVI. 
Sickness,         .........         232 

CHAPTER    XXVII. 
Peath,  ,,..,,         ,         ,         237 


io  CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER    XXVIII. 

PAGE 

An  escape  from  jail,  and  the  beginning  of  a  snow-storm,         243 

CHAPTER    XXIX. 
End  of  the  snow-storm, 250 

CHAPTER    XXX. 
Conclusion,     .        .        •  «         •         •         •         252 


TOM    PLAYFAIR. 


CHAPTER   I. 

IN   WHICH    THE    HERO    OF   THE    STORY  IS  REPRESENTED 

IN  A  DOUBTFUL  LIGHT. 


"'"TOMMY!' 

1     No  answer. 

'  Tommy — do  you  hear  me  ?  Get  up  this  moment, 
sir.  Do  you  think  this  house  is  a  hotel  ?  Every 
one's  at  breakfast  except  yourself." 

Miss  Meadow,  Tom  Playfair's  maternal  aunt,  stood 
without  the  door  of  Master  Playfair's  sleeping 
apartment.  She  paused  for  a  moment,  partly  to  gain 
her  breath  (having  come  up  three  pairs  of  stairs  to 
arouse  Tom)  and  partly  to  await  some  reply  from 
our  sleeping  hero. 

The  silence,  however,  was  simply  emphasized  by 
the  ticking  of  the  great  clock  in  the  hall. 

'  Tommy !"  she  resumed  at  length,  in  a  higher  key, 
'  do  you  hear  me?" 

Her  strained  ears  caught  the  dull  sound  as  of  some 
one  turning  lazily  in  his  bed.  "  Now  you're  awake, 
sir,  jump  right  up,  and  dress  for  your  breakfast." 

''Sho!    scat!"    came  a  yawning   voice   from   the 

room. 


12  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

'Dear  me!"  cried  poor  Miss  Meadow,  "the  boy 
doesn't  mind  me  in  the  least." 

"What's  the  trouble,  Jane?"  queried  Mr.  Playfair, 
who  just  then  issued  from  his  room. 

'*  I  can't  get  that  Tommy  out  of  bed.  He's  grow- 
ing worse  every  day,  George.  Last  week  he  was  late 
for  school  five  times." 

"I'll  fix  that,  Jane,"  said  Mr.  Playfair.  And  he 
took  one  step  toward  Tom's  sleeping-room,  when 
the  door  of  that  apartment  opened  a  few  inches,  dis- 
covering a  young  face  peering  anxiously  from  beneath 
a  mass  of  tangled  hair. 

*Pa,"  said  the  apparition,  "I'm  dressing  just  as 
fast  as  I  know  how.  I  heard  you,  auntie,  and  I'm 
coming  right  away." 

Then  the  door  closed.  Tom,  it  must  be  explained, 
had  been  composing  himself  for  another  nap,  when 
the  whispered  dialogue  between  his  aunt  and  his 
father  had  brought  him  out  of  bed  with  most  un- 
wonted celerity.  The  wily  lad  deemed  it  best  not 
to  wait  for  an  order  from  his  father.  Hence  the 
apparition. 

'  If  you  are  not  at  the  breakfast  table  in  two  min- 
utes, sir,  you  shall  hear  from  me,"  and  with  these 
sternly  delivered  words  Mr.  Playfair  conducted  Miss 
Meadow  to  breakfast. 

Little  more  than  a  minute  later,  a  stout,  healthy, 
dark-complexioned  lad  of  ten  emerged  from  his  room 
ready  and  eager  for  the  labor  and  heat  of  the  day. 
His  rosy  face  and  jet-black  hair  gave  token  of  a 
hasty  toilet.  His  shoes  were  partially  buttoned,  his 
sturdy  legs  were  encased  in  a  pair  of  bright  red  stock- 
ings and  rather  tight  knickerbockers,  and  his  chubby 
cheeks  wore  an  air  of  serenity,  which  coupled  with. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  13 

his  naturally  handsome  features  made  him  a  pleas- 
ing sight  to  all  lovers  of  the  genuine  American 
boy. 

Hastily  descending  the  stairs  (which  he  did  by 
taking  from  three  to  four  steps  at  a  bound),  Tom 
very  quickly  presented  himself  in  the  dining  room, 
and  ignoring  the  presence  of  the  cat,  in  the  teasing 
of  which  he  spent  a  considerable  portion  of  his  valu- 
able time,  he  seated  himself  at  table,  and  fell  to  with 
great  good  will.  But  trouble  was  brewing. 

Besides  Mr.  Playfair  and  Miss  Meadow,  there  was 
at  table  a  young  man,  brother  to  Tom's  aunt,  and 
the  bane  of  our  hero's  life.  Mr.  Charles  Meadow 
was  not  a  bad  young  man,  but  he  had,  despite  this 
negative  good  quality,  a  large  and  constantly  in- 
creasing stock  of  small  faults,  one  of  which  was  an 
inordinate  delight  in  teasing  and  browbeating  Tom. 
It  is  fair  to  say,  however,  that  in  the  indulgence  of 
this  fault  Mr.  Meadow  did  not  always  come  off  with 
flying  colors.  Tom  contrived  to  gain  a  victory  now 
and  then,  and  thus  added  a  zest  to  the  domestic 
war,  which  would  otherwise  have  been  too  one-sided 
to  be  interesting.  Strangely  enough,  Mr.  Playfair 
held  himself,  in  general,  strictly  neutral;  and  it  was 
only  when  the  campaign  gave  signs  of  unusual  bit- 
terness that  he  felt  himself  called  upon  to  interfere. 

On  the  present  occasion  young  Mr.  Meadow  had 
been  awaiting  with  ill-concealed  anxiety  Tom's 
appearance. 

"  Oh,  so  here  you  are  at  last,  are  you  ?"  he  began 
as  Tom  seated  himself  at  the  table. 

In  the  tranquillity  of  a  healthy  appetite  applied 
to  its  proper  purpose,  Tom  ignored  the  enemy's 
hostile  flag. 


14  TOM  PLA  YFA1R. 

"  Look  here,  young  man,"  continued  Mr.  Meadow, 
"  were  you  at  my  room  again  last  night  ?" 

"  How  could  a  fellow  get  in  your  old  room  when 
you  had  it  locked?"  queried  Tom  with  virtuous 
indignation. 

"Never  mind  the  'how,'  but  did  you  go  into  my 
room  last  night?" 

"  Say,  Aunt  Jane,  please  put  a  little  more  sugar  in 
this  coffee.  You  never  do  give  me  enough." 

"What  I  want  to  know,"  pursued  the  unrelenting 
uncle,"  is,  whether  you  went  into  my  room  last  night." 

"  If  you  stayed  at  home,  and  went  to  bed  early, 
instead  of  running  round  the  town  nights,"  answered 
Tom,  still  desirous  of  shifting  the  battle-ground, 
"you  wouldn't  be  asking  such  questions." 

At  this  moment  Mary  the  cook  entered  the  dining- 
room  with  a  plate  of  pancakes. 

If  Tom  had  a  preference,  it  was  for  this  dish. 

"Whoop!"  he  cried,  and  his  eyes  glistened. 

A  smile  of  triumph  passed  over  Mr.  Meadow's  coun- 
tenance; just  as  Tom  was  about  to  help  himself  lib- 
erally to  the  food  of  his  preference,  his  persecutor 
took  possession  of  the  plate,  and  having  helped  Mr. 
Playfair  and  Miss  Meadow  to  several  cakes,  he  placed 
the  rest  upon  his  own  plate. 

Tom  waxed  angry. 

"Oh!  you  think  you're  funny,  don't  you?  May  be 
you  don't  use  hair-dye  for  that  straw-colored  mus- 
tache of  yours — I  spelled  it  on  a  big  bottle." 

Mr.  Playfair  smiled,  Miss  Meadow  tittered,  Mr. 
Meadow  blushed  deeply.      Recovering  himself,   he 
returned  to  the  charge. 

"Aha!"  he  cried,  directing  his  forefinger  at  Tom. 
"  So  you  have  be'en  in  my  room  ?" 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  IS 

It  was  Tom's  turn  to  blush;  he  was  fairly  caught. 

"  How  did  you  get  in,  sir  ?"  continued  Mr.  Meadow, 
pursuing  his  advantage. 

"Button-hook,"  answered  Tom,  with  the  falling 
inflection. 

"  Exactly — that's  just  what  I  thought,  and  that's 
just  the  way  you  ruined  the  lock  of  the  pantry  last 
week." 

Mr.  Playfair's  face  took  on  an  air  of  concern;  he 
glanced  severely  at  the  culprit. 

"Well,"  drawled  Tom,  "I  guess  it  isn't  fair  to 
lock  up  ripe  apples.  They  don't  give  a  fellow  any 
show  in  this  house." 

"  Tommy!" — an  electric  shock  seemed  to  convulse 
our  little  pantry-burglar  at  the  low,  stem  tones  of 
his  father's  voice, — "  Tommy,  have  you  been  forc- 
ing locks  with  a  button-hook  again?" 

The  roses  in  Tom's  cheeks  grew  out  of  all  bounds, 
till  the  "  roots  of  his  hair  were  stirred  " ;  he  dropped 
his  knife  and  fork,  and  with  a  despairing  expression 
hung  his  head. 

"  This  is  getting  too  bad,"  Mr.  Playfair  continued. 
"I  don't  like  to  say  it,  but  such  conduct  is  more  fit 
for  a  young  thief  than  for  a  little  boy  whom  his 
father  wishes  to  make  a  gentleman."  At  the  word 
"  thief"  there  was  a  subdued  boo-hoo,  followed  by  the 
sound  of  heavy  breathing. 

"You  may  well  cry,  sir,"  pursued  the  parent,"  for 
you  have  every  reason  to  be  ashamed  of  yourself." 

"I  j-j-just  d-d-did  it  for  f-fun,"  he  sobbed. 

"Oh,  you're  exceedingly  funny!"  broke  in  Mr. 
Meadow  with  infinite  sarcasm. 

This  last  remark  filled  his  cup  of  sorrow  to  over- 
flowing; stifling  an  incipient  sob  and  muttering  that 


TOM  PLA  YFA1R. 

he  "didn't  want  no  breakfast,"  he  departed  into  the 
welcome  solitude  of  the  hall.  The  word  "thief" 
still  rang  in  his  ears,  and  sigh  upon  sigh  bursting  at 
short  intervals  from  his  passion-racked  bosom  testi- 
fied his  appreciation  of  the  term. 

Presently  Mr.  Meadow,  on  his  way  down  town, 
where  he  held  the  honorable  position  of  assistant 
book-keeper  in  a  St.  Louis  hardware  store,  issued 
from  the  dining-room.  At  the  sight  of  him,  Tom's 
grief  hardened  into  the  sterner  form  of  anger. 

'You'll  pay  for  this,  Mr.  Give-away,"  he  mut- 
tered, shaking  a  diminutive  fist  at  Mr.  Meadow. 
;'  I'm  going  to  see  Miss  Larkin  to-day — I  will,  I  will! 
— and  I'll  just  tell  her  all  the  mean  things  you  say 
to  me,  how  your  mustache  is  dyed — see  if  I  don't, — 
I'll  spoil  your  chances  there." 

Mr.  Meadow,  who  had  a  soft  spot  in  his  heart 
(devoted  almost  exclusively  to  said  Miss  Larkin), 
was  taken  back  not  a  little  at  this  threat. 

'You  young  scamp,"  he  roared  with  more  earnest- 
ness than  dignity,  "  if  you  go  near  that  young  lady 
with  any  of  your  wretched  stories,  I'll  give  you  a 
cowhiding. " 

'  Ugh!  you  give-away!"  cried  Tom  with  ineffable 
disgust. 

''So,  sir;  that's  the  language  you  use  to  your 
uncle,"  said  Mr.  Playfair,  who  as  he  opened  the  din- 
ing-room door  had  caught  these  words.  "  Go  up  to 
your  room,  sir,  and  don't  leave  it  till  nine  o'clock. 
Jane,"  he  continued,  looking  into  the  dining-room, 
'* please  tell  Tommy  when  it  is  nine." 

Mr.  Playfair  left  the  house  with  a  stern  cast  of 
countenance.  Tom  was  scarcely  five  when  his  mother 
died.  The  boy  was  good — but  the  want  of  a  mother's 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  1 7 

care  and  refining  influence  was  very  evident.  Then 
too,  Mr.  Playfair  reflected,  the  child  stood  in  great 
danger  of  having  his  disposition  ruined.  Petted  by 
Miss  Meadow,  he  was  growing  selfish;  teased  by 
Mr.  Meadow,  he  was  becoming  bold. 

"Yes,"  he  muttered,  "I  shall  have  to  take  some 
decisive  step,  or  the  boy  will  be  spoiled." 


CHAPTER   II. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  BY  A  SERIES  OF  MISADVENTURES  BRINGS 
DOWN  THE  WRA  TH  OF  HIS  FA  THER  IN  SUCH  WISE  THA  T 
THE  A  UTHOR,  FOR  FEAR  OF  FORFEITING  TOM'S  CHANCES 
OF  BECOMING  A  HERO  IN  THE  READER'S  EYES,  DIS- 
CREETLY VEILS  WHAT  ACTUALLY  HAPPENED  WHEN 
JUSTICE  WAS  ADMINISTERED. 

THE  mournful  wail  that  swept  at  dismal  intervals 
through  Mr.  Playfair's  house  touched  the  sym- 
pathetic chord  of  compassion  in  the  heartstrings  of 
gentle  Aunt  Jane.  Stealing  softly  up  to  Tom's  room, 
she  entered  on  tiptoe.  Master  Tom,  his  hair  di- 
shevelled, and  the  channels  of  grief  plainly  traced 
upon  his  cheeks,  was  lying  prone  upon  his  bed.  The 
sight  of  her  compassionate  face  opened  a  new  flood  of 
tears. 

"Don't  cry,  Tommy,"  she  said  softly. 

"I  wish  I  was  dead,"  cried  that  young  gentleman. 

"  Now,  now,  Tommy,"  exclaimed  the  horrified  and 
too  credulous  aunt,  "don't  talk  that  way:  it  is  sin- 
ful, and  I'm  sure  you  don't  mean  it." 

"I'll  bet  I  do,"  he  howled.  "And  I  wish  I  was 
b-b-buried  too  under  the  ground.  And  I'll  tell  you 
what,  Aunt  Jane,  I'll  run  away." 

2 


1 8  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

11  Oh,  Tommy,  how  can  you  say  such  wicked  things  ? 
Come,  now,  can't  I  bring  you  up  some  breakfast?" 

'Don't  want  any  breakfast.  I'll  runaway,  and 
sell  newspapers,  and  have  a  jolly  time." 

'  Dear,  dear,  where  did  you  get  all  these  notions  ?" 
queried  Miss  Meadow,  whose  confiding  spirit  received 
these  exaggerated  expressions  of  grief  as  so  much 
gospel  truth.  '  Tommy,  what  do  you  say  to  some 
buttered  toast,  and  a  bit  of  cake?" 

In  spite  of  himself,  Tom  could  not  help  showing, 
at  this  stage,  some  interest  in  sublunary  affairs. 

"No,"  he  said,  sitting  up  in  bed,  "but  I'd  like  to 
have  some  pancakes." 

:  They're  all  gone,  Tommy,  and  it's  so  much 
trouble  to  make  them." 

'Well,  then,  I  don't  want  any  breakfast,"  he  said, 
throwing  himself  back  on  the  bed,  and  relapsing  into 
sobs. 

This  last  exhibition  of  tactics  won  the  victory. 
Miss  Meadow  descended  to  the  kitchen,  and  put  her- 
self to  the  elaborate  work  of  making  pancakes  for  the 
world-worn  youth  of  ten. 

Upon  her  departure,  Tom  smiled  in  a  manner  not 
entirely  devoid  of  guile;  and  the  smile  running 
counter  to  his  tears  formed  a  sort  of  facial  rainbow. 

Presently  Aunt  Jane  appeared  with  the  pancakes, 
and  other  delicacies,  and  very  shortly,  indeed,  Tom 
fell  to  in  a  manner  most  encouraging  to  behold. 

'  I  say,  Aunt  Jane,"  he  said,  speaking  with  as  much 
distinctness  as  the  crowded  state  of  his  mouth  would 
allow,  "  you're  a  real  genuine,  old  fairy-grandmother, 
you  are." 

He  intended  this  for  a  magnificent  compliment,  but 
Aunt  Jane  did  not  look  particularly  gratified.  To  a 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  19 

miss  of  thirty  the  epithets  "  old  "  and  "  grandmother  " 
were  rather  suggestive. 

Perceiving  that  he  had  made  some  mistake, Tom 
added: 

"I'll  tell  you  what,  Auntie,  I  won't  bother  your 
pantry,  or  scare  the  cook  for — well,  for  a  week." 
He  spoke  as  if  he  felt  how  handsome  his  offer  was. 

"That  sounds  better,"  said  Miss  Meadow.  "So 
you'll  be  a  good  boy  now,  wont  you?" 

"  Honor  bright,  Aunt  Jane."  And  Miss  Meadow, 
with  this  consolatory  assurance  gladdening  her  heart, 
departed  to  attend  to  her  domestic  affairs,  having 
first  given  him  his  liberty. 

Availing  himself  of  this,  he  was  presently  engaged 
in  the  back  yard  in  constructing  a  chicken-coop. 

'Halloa!"  said  a  voice  directly  behind  him. 

'  Halloa  yourself ;  is  that  you,  Jeff?"  he  made 
answer,  as  a  boy  of  about  his  own  age,  with  a  dollish 
face,  and  clad  in  soft  garments,  met  his  view. 

;' Got  any  chickens  yet?"  asked  Jeff,  ignoring 
Tom's  question  as  being  superfluous. 

'Not  yet,  but  I  guess  I'll  trade  off  my  base-ball 
with  Tom  White  for  one."  And  master  Tom  picked 
up  a  pine  board  which  he  proceeded  to  split  into 
smaller  sections.  In  the  midst  of  this  interesting 
operation,  a  chip  flew  up,  striking  Jeff  rather  sharply 
upon  the  lobe  of  his  left  ear. 

''  Confound  you !"  shouted  Jeff,  rubbing  the  injured 
member  with  pathetic  earnestness. 

'You  needn't  curse,"  said  Tom  resentfully. 

'  That  aint  cursin',"  retorted  Jeff  in  a  sharper  key. 

"Well,  it's  vulgar  all  the  same,"  insisted  Tom, 
unwilling  to  give  in  entirely. 

"It  isn't." 


20  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

"It  is." 

"I  tell  you  it  isn't." 

"I  tell  you  it  is." 

"  I  guess  my  pa  uses  it." 

"My  pa  doesn't,  and  he  ought  to  know." 

Their  voices  "took  a  higher  range." 

"  See  here,  Jeff  Thompson,  do  you  mean  to  say  that 
your  pa  knows  more  than  mine?" 

"Yes,  I  do." 

Tom  seemed  to  think  that  the  conversation  had 
reached  a  point  where  argument  should  be  advanced 
by  other  means  than  mere  verbal  expression,  for  he 
suddenly  struck  out  straight  from  the  shoulder,  and 
before  his  astonished  opponent  could  hold  up  his 
bands  to  ward  off  the  blow  a  sturdy  little  fist  came 
into  forceful  contact  with  Jeff's  nose. 

As  stars  gladiatorial  flashed  before  Jeff's  eyes,  his 
yell  of  anguish  broke  upon  the  silence. 

"I'm  killed,"  he  shrieked,  as  the  blood  gushed 
from  his  injured  member. 

The  fast-flowing  stream  frightened  Tom  exceed- 
ingly. 

"  Oh,  Jeff!  "  he  cried,  clasping  his  hands,  "  I  didn't 
mean  to  hurt  you  so  much — cross  my  heart,  I  didn't, " 
and  he  rubbed  his  thumb  so  as  to  form  an  invisible 
cross  upon  the  right  side  of  his  sailor  jacket,  suppos- 
ing, in  his  ignorance,  that  he  had  precisely  located 
his  heart. 

"Go  'way,  don't  talk  to  me,  "said  Jeff,  suspending 
a  howl  to  deliver  this  important  communication. 
"  I'll  never  speak  to  you  again." 

"Oh,  Jeff,  don't  stand  bleeding!  "  implored  Tom. 
"Come  'long  to  the  pump  and  I'll  help  you  wash 
yourself." 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  21 

"I  wont  go  to  the  pump,"  roared  Jeff.  XT11  just 
stand  here  and  bleed  to  death,  and  you'll  be  hung 
for  a  murderer." 

This  threat,  coupled  with  the  sight  of  the  flowing 
blood,  filled  Tom's  soul  with  horror. 

"Good  gracious!  Jeff,  I  believe  you  will  die,  if  you 
keep  on  bleeding." 

"  Do  you  think  so?"  inquired  Jeff,  paling  a  little, 
for  he  was  not  so  very  anxious  for  death. 

"  Yes,  Jeff,  I — I'm  afraid  you're  gone,  and  you'll  be 
cold  and  stiff,  and  a  big  policeman  will  come  and 
grab  me,  and  a  judge  will  hang  me  in  a  black  cap — 
Oh,  gracious!"  And  at  this  dismal  prospect  Tom 
blubbered. 

"  I  guess  I'll  go  to  the  pump,"  said  Jeff.  And  two 
mournful  little  lads  sought  together  the  cooling 
waters.  Despite  the  wholesome  application  of  the 
water,  the  bleeding  still  continued.  Their  looks  of 
dismay  deepened.  Suddenly  Tom's  face  lighted  up. 

"Oh,  Jeff!  I've  got  it!  I  heard  Aunt  Jane  read  in 
an  almanax  that  if  you  hold  your  arm  up  when  your 
nose  is  blooded  it  will  stop." 

Forthwith,  Jeff's  right  arm  reached  madly  toward 
the  sky.  To  the  intense  gratification  of  both  parties 
the  bleeding  soon  began  to  subside. 

"  I  say,  Jeff,  hold  up  both  arms,  that  ought  to  make 
it  stop  twice  as  fast." 

With  equal  docility,  Jeff  struck  the  new  attitude. 
The  bleeding  was  now  almost  imperceptible. 

"And,  Jeff,  what's  the  matter  with  your  leg?" 

"How?" 

"Suppose  you  hold  that  up  too." 

There  was  a  returning  twinkle  in  Tom's  eye,  which 
Jeff  failed  to  notice. 


22  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"How'll  I  do  it?" 

"  Lean  up  against  the  pump,  and  I'll  fix  the  rest." 

Jeff  obeyed,  and  Tom  catching  hold  of  the  patient's 
right  leg  lifted  it  up,  up,  up,  till  Jeff  shrieked  with 
pain. 

"Drop  it,  you  goose!" 

"  You  needn't  get  excited.  I  didn't  mean  to  hurt 
you,"  said  Tom,  apologetically,  and  he  lowered  Jeff's 
leg  a  few  inches. 

It  was  a  funny  sight — Jeff  leaning  against  the  pump 
with  his  two  arms  raised  perpendicularly,  and  his  leg 
supported  at  a  right  angle  to  the  rest  of  his  body  by 
his  sympathetic  friend.  The  bleeding  soon  ceased, 
and  Tom  showed  his  sense  of  the  humor  of  the  situa- 
tion by  giving  the  leg  such  a  twist  that  Jeff  shrieked 
louder  than  ever. 

'You're  a. mean  fellow,  and  I  wont  speak  to  you 
again,"  vociferated  Jeff  when  he  had  recovered 
speech. 

'  You  oughtn't  to  sass  a  boy  in  his  own  yard,"  said 
Tom  argumentatively. 

'Who's  going  to  stay  in  your  old  yard?"  and  Jeff 
in  high  dudgeon  made  his  way  into  the  alley. 

Tom  now  devoted  himself  for  the  next  five  minutes 
to  the  construction  of  the  chicken-coop.  Presently 
wearying  of  this  lonely  occupation  he  clambered  over 
the  fence  into  the  alley  in  search  of  some  compan- 
ion. To  his  great  disappointment  not  a  single  boy 
was  to  be  seen  except  Jeff  Thompson,  who  was  por- 
ing interestedly  over  a  kite.  The  loneliness  which 
had  come  upon  Tom  caused  his  heart  to  soften. 

"  I  say,  Jeff,  got  a  string  for  that  kite?" 

"  You  needn't  mind  about  this  kite, "  answered  Jeff, 
without  raising  his  eyes. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR,  23 

''Because,  if  you  haven't,"  went  on  Tom  in  gentle 
tones,  "I'll  lend  you  mine." 

Jeff's  countenance  softened  somewhat.  Tom,  see- 
ing his  advantage,  followed  it  up. 

'  Oh,  Jeff,  you  ought  to  see  my  new  flint!" 

"Where'd  you  get  it?"  This  with  awakened  inter- 
est. 

'  Bunkered  it  off  Sadie  Roberts;  come  on  up,  and 
I'll  show  it  to  you." 

This  ended  all  hostilities;  and  within  five  minutes 
Jeff  and  Tom  had  entered  into  a  solemn  contract  to 
be  "  partners  "  thenceforward  and  forever. 

An  hour  or  so  after  this  binding  contract,  Aunt 
Jane  called  up  at  Tom's  room  to  ascertain  what  was 
keeping  that  young  gentleman  so  quiet.  His  tran- 
quillity was  easily  explained;  neither  Tom  nor  Jeff 
was  there.  Miss  Meadow  made  a  careful  examina- 
tion of  the  house,  paying  special  attention  to  Mr. 
Meadow's  room,  and  the  pantry;  but  finding  not  even 
a  trace  of  her  graceless  charge  in  these  places,  she 
hurried  into  the  yard.  Her  eyes  swept  anxiously 
over  the  limited  view.  The  yard  was  deserted. 

"Tom!"  she  cried. 

"Yes'm." 

"Good  gracious!  where  in  the  world  are  you?" 

"Up  here." 

Miss  Meadow  raised  her  eyes,  then  gave  a  shriek 
of  horror;  on  the  slanting  roof  of  the  house  Tom 
was  busily  attending  to  a  dove-cot  with  one  hand, 
while  the  other  was  held  by  Jeff,  who  was  standing 
on  the  top  rung  of  a  ladder,  his  little  nose,  "  tip-tilted 
like  the  petal  of  a  flower,"  just  appearing  over  the 
opening  in  the  skylight. 

"  Tommy,  get  down  out  of  that  this  very  instant. 


24  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

Good  gracious !  do  you  want  to  slip  off  and  kill  your- 
self?" 

;'  I  want  to  put  some  feed  in  for  my  doves.  I 
don't  care  about  falling  and  killing  myself,"  came 
the  tranquil  answer. 

'  Tommy,  I  want  you  to  get  down  from  that  dan- 
gerous position  instantly." 

'  Oh,  Auntie,  just  one  minute;  I'm  all  right." 

Miss    Meadow    was  ready  to   cry    with    anxiety. 
'  Tommy,  if  you  don't  obey  me  this  very — " 

Miss  Meadow  paused  on  seeing  the  look  of  anima- 
tion that  suddenly  appeared  upon  Tom's  features. 

"Did  you  hear  it,  Jeff?" 

"  What  ?" 

;<  It's  the  fire  bell, — hurrah!"  and  with  a  quick 
spring  through  the  trap  -  door  Master  Tom  dis- 
appeared. 

'  Now,  he  thinks  he's  going  off  to  the  fire,"  solilo- 
quized Miss  Meadow ;  "  but  out  of  this  house  he  shall 
not  stir  one  step."  And  she  hastened  in,  constrain- 
ing her  mind  to  the  proper  degree  of  firmness.  But 
alas!  as  she  passed  through  the  kitchen  and  dining- 
room  into  the  hall,  four  sturdy  little  legs  twinkled 
down  the  front  door  steps;  and  two  treble  voices 
raised  to  their  highest  yelling  key  completely 
drowned  her  command  to  come  back. 

Miss  Meadow  sank  into  a  chair  and  wiped  her 
eyes.  It  was  mortifying  to  confess  even  to  herself, 
but  she  had  to  admit  that  Tom  was  fast  slipping  be- 
yond her  control.  The  mild,  timid  little  lady  was 
no  match  for  the  wild,  impetuous,  thoughtless  boy. 
If  Tom  could  have  understood  the  pain  and  anxiety 
his  conduct  had  wrought  in  her  gentle  bosom,  he 
would  have  thought  twice  before  taking  so  abrupt  a 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  25 

departure.  But  her  tears  (so  far  as  he  was  concerned) 
were  as  dew  upon  the  naked  rock  ;  and,  shouting  with 
excitement,  he  hurried  away  through  the  streets  to 
the  scene  of  the  fire. 

The  dinner  hour  came,  but  no  Tom;  and  the  poor 
lady  with  aching  eyes  peered  long  through  the  parlor 
window  hoping  to  catch  some  glimpse  of  the  return- 
ing adventurer.  As  the  quarters  passed  on,  Miss 
Meadow  became  more  grieved. 

"  I  must  give  up,"  she  said  to  herself.  "  The  boy 
loves  me,  I  am  sure;  but  I  cannot  take  the  place  of 
his  poor  dead  mother.  He  does  just  what  he  likes. 
Unless  something  decided  be  done,  he  will  grow 
up  to  be  self-willed  and  undisciplined.  Thank  God ! 
to-morrow's  a  class  day.  But  even  at  school  he  is 
not  under  the  proper  charge.  Miss  Harvey  teaches 
well;  but  in  Tommy's  hands  she  is  powerless." 

At  length,  wearied  with  waiting,  and  vexed  with 
the  disagreeable  train  of  thought  Tom's  recent  esca- 
pades had  occasioned,  she  endeavored,  with  poor 
success,  however,  to  eat  a  little  dinner.  As  she  was 
about  to  leave  the  table,  a  light  but  slow  tread  was 
heard  without.  The  tread  drew  nearer;  the  door 
opened,  and  Tom,  his  stockings  bespattered  with 
mud,  his  shirt-collar  crushed  out  of  all  shapeliness, 
his  hat  gone,  and  an  expression  of  shame  upon  his 
dirt-smeared  features,  entered  the  room. 

"Well,  sir,"  began  his  aunt,  who,  in  spite  of  the 
joy  she  felt  at  his  reappearance,  was  determined  to 
be  severe,  "  how  are  you  going  to  account  for  your- 
self?" Tom  hung  his  head,  fell  into  a  close  consid- 
eration of  his  feet;  and,  having  no  hat  to  twirl,  be- 
gan pulling  his  fingers, 

"Aren't  you  ashamed  of  yourself?" 


26  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

Tom  appeared  to  consider  this  a  difficult  question. 

"Do  you  hear?  Aren't  you  ashamed  of  yourself?" 

'Yes'm,"  this  in  a  subdued  tone,  and  after  due 
reflection. 

'*  Now,  sir,  you  needn't  think  to  escape  a  flogging. 
Let's  hear  your  story,  and  then  I'll  attend  to  you  in 
your  room,  where  you  may  remain  fasting  till  supper. " 

Healthy  boys  as  a  rule  are  not  pleased  with  the 
prospect  of  losing  their  dinner;  nor  is  the  number 
great  of  those  boys  who  entertain  no  prejudices 
against  flogging.  Tom  saw  that  matters  had  come 
to  a  crisis;  and  that  nothing  but  a  masterly  stroke 
would  win  the  day.  Quick  as  thought  the  young 
general  had  planned  out  his  campaign.  Advancing 
to  his  aunt's  side  in  all  humility,  he  suddenly  caught 
her  hand,  and  said: 

'*  Auntie  Jane,  I'm  sorry, "  and  before  Miss  Meadow 
could  become  aware  of  his  intention,  he  threw  his 
arms  round  her  neck  and  kissed  her. 

Under  the  warmth  of  this  greeting,  her  icy  stern- 
ness melted  away,  and  flowed  off  in  a  gentle  stream 
of  kindness. 

'Poor  boy!  you  must  be  tired  and  hungry,  too. 
Indeed  you  don't  deserve  any  dinner.  But  sit  down; 
I  haven't  the  heart  to  see  you  go  to  your  room  in 
hunger." 

Tom  was  not  slow  to  avail  himself  of  this  permis- 
sion; and  while  Miss  Meadow,  her  bosom  agitated 
by  a  conflict  between  duty  and  affection,  helped  him 
to  the  various  dishes,  Tom  plied  knife  and  fork  with 
no  small  earnestness. 

For  the  rest  of  the  afternoon  he  distinguished  him- 
self by  his  conduct.  In  fact,  he  was  trembling  on 
account  of  the  wrath  to  come,  His  unusual  excur- 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  27 

sion  would  be  reported  to  his  father,  and  then  it 
would  require  more  than  Tom's  address  to  avoid 
serious  consequences. 

Nor  were  his  forebodings  without  foundation. 
When  Mr.  Playfair  heard  from  Miss  Meadow's  lips 
the  account  of  his  son's  doings,  he  compressed  his 
lips  tightly,  knit  his  brow,  and  then,  after  some  seri- 
ous reflection,  called  for  the  culprit. 

'Sir,"  said  the  father  sternly,  "you  have  gone  the 
limit  of  your  tether." 

Tom  did  not  know  what  "going  the  limit  of  one's 
tether"  meant;  but  entertaining  the  idea  that  it  was 
something  very  horrid  indeed,  he  set  up  a  dismal 
wail. 

:'  Sir,  you  need  to  learn  obedience  and  respect  to 
your  elders.  Next  September,  just  five  months  from 
now,  you  start  for  St.  Maure's  boarding-school,  and 
remember  this — if  you  give  any  trouble  there,  I'll  not 
allow  you  to  make  your  First  Communion  for  another 
year.  Now,  sir" — 

But  as  Tom  Playfair  is  to  be  the  hero  of  this  vera- 
cious story  I  cannot  bring  myself  to  put  on  record 
what  his  father  said  further;  still  less  have  I  the 
heart  to  chronicle  what  Mr.  Playfair  did.  Tom  was 
very  noisy  on  the  occasion.  Up  to  this  hour  he  had 
known  the  force  of  his  father's  hand  only  from  the 
friendly  clasp.  But  over  that  occasion,  which  Tom 
never  forgot,  and  ov.er  the  ensuing  five  months,  you 
and  I,  dear  reader,  drop  a  veil  which  shall  not  be 
withdrawn. 


28  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 


CHAPTER    III. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  LEAVES  FOR  ST.  MAURES,  AND  FINDS  ON 
THE  ROAD  THITHER  THAT  FUN  SOMETIMES  COMES 
EXPENSIVE. 


interval  of  five  months  taught  Tom  several 
1  years,  as  it  were.  The  prospect  of  preparing 
for  his  First  Communion,  and  of  going  to  a  school 
where  he  would  be  thrown  upon  his  own  resources, 
put  a  touch  of  earnestness,  hitherto  lacking,  into 
his  life,  in  such  wise  that  there  came  a  change 
so  perceptible  as  even  to  attract  Mr.  Meadow's 
notice. 

During  the  vacation,  strange  to  say,  Tom  gave 
so  little  trouble  that  Aunt  Jane  entertained  serious 
fears  for  his  health. 

About  thirty  minutes  past  seven,  on  a  Monday 
evening  in  September,  Master  Tom,  enveloped  in  a 
linen  duster  which  reached  nearly  to  his  heels,  look- 
ing rather  solemn  and  accompanied  by  his  uncle, 
aunt,  and  father,  stood  silent  in  the  Union  Depot  of 
St.  Louis. 

Bells  were  ringing,  engines  were  puffing,  hissing, 
and  shrieking,  tracks  were  rumbling  and  quivering; 
cars  were  moving  in  and  out;  newsboys,  hackmen, 
and  depot  officials  were  shouting,  porters  were  hurry- 
ing in  every  direction  throwing  trunks  and  other 
baggage,  now  here,  now  there,  in  a  manner  most  con- 
fusing to  the  inexperienced  eye;  women  and  children 
were  standing  near  the  ticket  offices,  or  sitting  rest- 
lessly in  the  waiting-rooms,  some  indulging  in  a  hasty 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  29 

lunch,  many  looking  hopelessly  lost:  while  the  mul- 
titudinous electric  lights  flared  and  sputtered  over 
the  whole  scene. 

As  train  after  train  moved  away  for  its  long  jour- 
ney, and  Tom  realized  that  he  too  would  soon  be  on 
his  way  to  another  part  of  the  world,  his  heart  grew 
heavy. 

"I  say,  pa,"  he  suggested,  "I  guess  I  don't  want 
to  go." 

Pa  smiled. 

"Mr.  Don't-Want  is  not  a  member  of  our  family," 
volunteered  Mr.  Meadow  very  smartly. 

Tom  shot  an  indignant  glance  at  the  speaker  of 
these  cruel  words. 

"  Keep  up  your  courage,  Tommy,"  whispered  Aunt 
Jane,  quietly  pressing  a  silver  dollar  into  his  hands. 
"It's  for  your  own  good,  dear,  and  in  ten  short 
months  you'll  come  back  a  little  man." 

The  prospect  of  ten  short  months,  and  the  result- 
ant of  a  little  man  afforded  him  small  consolation, 
but  the  silver  dollar  had  a  reassuring  effect.  Absent- 
ing himself  from  the  family  group,  he  immediately 
expended  one  quarter  of  his  aunt's  gift  on  a  paper 
of  caramels  and  a  cream-cake;  and  he  was  thinking 
very  seriously  of  laying  out  twenty-five  cents  more  in 
the  purchase  of  a  toy  pistol,  when  a  crowd  of  boys 
of  all  ages  and  sizes  came  pouring  into  the  depot. 

Tom  gazed  at  them  in  amazement. 

'*  I  say,"  he  said,  addressing  one  of  the  boys  about 
his  own  age,  "what's  broken  loose?" 

Instead  of  answering  this  question,  the  boy  stopped 
and  considered  Tom  attentively.  '  Don't  you  belong 
to  our  crowd?"  he  at  length  said. 

"  What  crowd  ?"  asked  Tom. 


30  TOM  PLA  YFAfR. 

"The  St.  Maure's  fellows." 

'What!"  cried  Tom  in  amazement,  "are  all  you 
fellows  going  there  too?" 

"That's  what  they  say." 

'  Why,  then,  things  aren't  so  bad  as  I  thought  they 
would  be.  I  say,  let's  be  partners.  My  name  is 
Tommy  Playfair:  What's  yours?" 

"Harry  Quip." 

'Here,  take  some  candy,"  said  Tom,  opening  his 
package. 

Harry  embraced  both  offers.  Henceforth  he  and 
Tom  were  "partners." 

While  the  two  were  thus  exchanging  small-boy 
courtesies,  a  clean-shaven  gentleman,  somewhat  be- 
yond middle  age  and  attired  in  a  clerical  suit,  walked 
up  to  them. 

Harry  raised  his  hat,  and  endeavored  to  compose 
his  features. 

"Well,  Harry,"  said  the  new-comer,  "who  is  this 
little  friend  of  yours?" 

Tom,  perceiving  that  the  eyes  of  the  gentleman 
were  fixed  upon  him,  became  nervous,  and  in  endeav- 
oring to  bolt  a  caramel  which  he  had  recently  placed 
in  his  mouth,  nearly  choked  himself. 
;This  is  Tommy  Playfair,"  said  Harry. 

'  Oh,  indeed !  so  this  is  the  boy  that  runs  after  fire- 
engines,  is  it?" 

'  Only  did  it  four  or  five  times  in  my  life,  father." 

'  And  gets  himself  on  top  of  slippery  roofs." 

Tom  only  remarked: — 

'Please,  father,  I  wont  do  it  again." 

Upon  this  the  reverend  gentleman  who  had  charge 
of  the  boys  laughed  cheerfully,  shook  his  new  ac- 
quaintance's hand,  and,  cautioning  both  to  take  their 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  31 

places  in  a  car  which  he  pointed  out,  hurried  away 
to  see  to  the  safety  of  the  luggage. 

'What's  his  name?"  inquired  Tom. 
'That's  Father  Teeman,  he's  prefect  of  discipline 
at  the  college." 

'Discipline!"  echoed  Tom,  with  a  vague  idea  of 
a  cat-o'-nine-tails  running  through  his  head;  "what 
does  that  mean?" 

'It  means  that  he  does  the  whipping." 

'Whew! — But  he  doesn't  look  so  savage." 

'  He  doesn't  have  to.  But  just  wait  till  he  catches 
you  cutting  up.  He'll  thrash  you  so  as  you  will  pre- 
fer standing  to  any  other  position  for  a  week  after." 

Tom  was  appalled.  His  companion,  could  he 
only  know  it,  was  exaggerating  grossly  for  the  sake 
of  enjoying  the  new-comer's  surprise  and  terror. 

"  Does  he  thrash  a  fellow  often?"  was  Tom's  next 
question. 

'Well,  I  should  say  so!  last  year  I  got  whipped 
nearly  twice  a  day,  and  there  was  scarcely  a  week 
that  I  didn't  go  to  the  infirmary  to  lay  up  for  repairs.  * 

''Gracious!"  ejaculated  Tom.  'I  wont  stand  it. 
Harry,  you  and  I  are  partners.  I'll  tell  you  what 
let's  do.  Nobody's  watching  us.  Let's  slip  out. 
I've  got  a  dollar,  and  we  can  support  ourselves  on 
that:  and  when  we  get  broke,  we'll  sell  newspapers." 

Harry  had  no  idea  of  encouraging  Tom  to  run 
away.  In  his  school-boy  idea  of  a  good  joke,  he 
merely  wished  to  put  him  in  a  state  of  dismal  sus- 
pense. So  he  said: 

"Oh!  you  needn't  get  scared!  There's  lots  of  fun 
out  there." 

'  I  don't  see  any  fun  in  getting  strapped  once  or 
twice  a  day." 


32  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

"You  wont  get  a  strapping  at  all,  maybe.  I  was 
such  a  dreadful  hard  case,  you  see;  that's  why  I  got 
it."  Notwithstanding  this  avowal  it  is  but  just  to 
remark  that  Harry  Quip's  features,  in  their  normal 
state,  wore  a  very  mild  expression. 

Still,  Harry's  explanation  did  not  succeed  in 
disarming  Tom's  fears.  If  there  were  to  be  any 
wild  boys  at  St.  Maure's,  Tom,  like  Abou  Ben 
Adhem,  had  substantial  reasons  for  believing  that 
his  name  would  lead  all  the  rest.  He  was  about 
to  press  his  proposition  of  running  away  with 
still  greater  earnestness,  when  he  heard  his  name 
called. 

"  Coming  directly,  sir.  I  say,  Harry,  you  keep  a 
seat  for  me  next  you  on  the  car,"  and  Tom  pattered 
off  to  bid  adieu  to  his  father. 

"Well,  my  boy,  "said  Mr.  Playfair,  catching  Tom's 
hand,  "  I  am  about  to  put  you  into  good  hands. 
But  you  must  be  careful.  You  will  now  be  thrown 
among  all  kinds  of  boys — bad,  good,  and  indifferent. 
Remember,  that  on  your  choice  of  company  depends 
in  great  part  your  piety.  Teachers  may  instruct, 
priests  may  exhort,  but  if  your  company  be  bad  you 
will  be  no  better.  And  don't  forget  that  every  day 
you  are  preparing  for  your  First  Communion.  That 
should  be  the  day  of  your  life.  If  you  make  a  good 
First  Communion,  you're  sure  to  get  on  well ;  so  look 
out  for  your  company,  and  try  to  be  as  good  a  boy 
as  you  can.  Now,  my  dear  child,  be  watchful  on 
these  points.  As  to  the  rest,  I  hold  no  fear. 
Here's  something  to  keep  your  courage  up — but 
don't  spend  it  all  at  once." 

Tom  took  the  advice  in  good  part,  and  the  five- 
dollar  bill  with  effusive  enthusiasm.  Then  kissing 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  33 

his  father,  he  turned  to  Aunt  Jane.     The  kind  lady 
could  not  repress  a  few  sobs. 

"God  bless  you,  my  boy!"  she  faltered.  "Be 
sure  and  write  every  week;  and  I'll  pray  for  you 
every  morning  and  every  night  as  long  as  you're 
away."  And  she  handed  him  a  basket  laden  with 
his  favorite  delicacies.  Tom's  eyes  filled  at  these 
exhibitions  of  his  aunt's  kindness. 

'I've  been  awful  mean  to  you,  Aunt  Jane,  lots  of 
time;  but  I  didn't  intend  anything,  you  know;  and 
I'm  sorry.  And  when  I  come  back  I  hope  I'll  be 
better — honor  bright." 

Even  Mr.  Meadow,  yielding  to  the  solemn  influ- 
ence of  a  parting  scene,  had  purchased  his  nephew 
a  red-covered  book,  concerning  an  impossible  boy, 
who  met  with  all  kinds  of  impossible  adventures  in 
an  impossible  country. 

"Chicago-ooo-and  Alton  Railroad;  all  aboard  for 
Kansas  City!"  shouted  a  voice. 

"That's  for  you,  Tommy,"  Mr.  Playfair  said. 

They  all  moved  towards  the  cars  indicated.  A 
negro  in  the  official  garments  of  the  road  met  them 
half-way. 

'  Is  he  a  college  boy,  sah  ?  Step  jes  dis  way,  sah. 
I  have  de  high  honaw  of  taking  chahge  of  all  of 
them.  Come  on,  young  gemman.  Now,  up  you 
go."  And  without  giving  our  hero  an  opportunity 
of  making  a  farewell  speech,  he  quickly  raised  Tom 
upon  the  platform,  and,  in  a  manner  quite  gentle, 
yet  effective,  pushed  him  into  the  reclining-chair 
car. 

'Here  you  are,  Tom!"  shouted  Master  Quip,  who 
faithful  to  his  promise  had  kept  his  friend  a  seat 
beside  him. 
3 


34  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

Tom  hastened  to  occupy  the  vacant  chair,  and 
seated  himself  as  the  train  began  to  move  out  from 
the  depot,  while  the  boys  gave  three  vigorous 
cheers. 

"Ah!  I  like  this,"  said  Tom,  throwing  himself 
back  in  his  seat,  and  yielding  to  the  luxury  of  the 
hour. 

"Jolly,  isn't  it?"  Harry  observed.  "Take  a 
smoke"  and  he  offered  Tom  a  cigarette. 

"Well,  no,"  said  Tom  with  some  hesitation. 

"  Why  not  ?" 

"Well,  I'll  tell  you,"  answered  Tom,  in  a  burst 
of  confidence.  "  I  hate  anything  like  humbug. 
And  if  I  was  to  smoke  now,  it  would  only  be  to  look 
big.  You  see  I've  got  no  liking  for  it.  I've  smoked 
once  or  twice  up  in  papa's  hay-loft,  but  it's  always 
made  me  feel  bad.  So  you  see  I  don't  like  it;  and 
I'd  be  a  humbug  if  I  pretended  I  did." 

This  was  one  of  the  Jongest  speeches  Tom  had 
ever  made;  and  it  produced  its  impression. 

"Well,  you've  got  true  grit,  Tom.  And  I  like 
you  the  better  for  what  you've  said.  I  like  a  smoke 
myself  once  in  a  while,  but  I'm  pretty  sure  that  half 
the  little  chaps  who  smoke  do  it  to  look  big." 

"  I'd  rather  be  little  than  big,"  said  Tom. 

"Why?" 

"Oh,  pshaw!  a  man's  got  to  shave,  and  has  to 
dress  stylish,  and  can't  play,  nor  eat  candy  in  the 
streets,  and  lots  of  things." 

"That's  so." 

'Yes;  and  then  half  of  them  get  stuck  up.  And 
they  wear  stiff  hats,  and  are  afraid  to  run,  and  don't 
play  any  games  at  all." 

"Yes,"  assented   Harry;  "and   then  when   chaps 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  35 

grow  up,  they've  such  a  lot  of  worry  about  bringing 
out  their  mustaches." 

Both  considered  the  subject  pretty  well  exhausted. 

"  I  say,"  continued  Tom,  "  they're  all  boys  in  this 
car." 

'Yes;  it's  been  chartered  for  our  crowd." 

"  Do  you  know  them  all  ?" 

'  I  know  some  of  the  old  boys." 

'Who's  that  fellow  with  his  coat  collar  turned 
so's  to  hide  his  ears,  and  his  hair  stickin'  up  like 
bristles,  trying  to  smoke  a  cigar  as  if  he  was  used 
to  it?" 

'That's  Johnny  Shoestrings." 

"  Who  ?  " 

'Johnny  Shoestrings.  That's  his  nickname,  you 
know;  he's  such  a  slouch.  I  can't  think  of  his  right 


name." 
« 


Who's  that  boy  with  hair  like  a  carrot  banged 
all  over  his  forehead,  and  a  pug  nose,  and  an  aw- 
fully big  mouth  ?" 

"That's  Crazy  Green." 

'  Crazy  Green?" 

"That's  what  everybody  calls  him.  He  hasn't 
got  any  sense,  and  doesn't  know  how  to  behave 
decent.  In  fact,  I  think  he's  a  real  bad  boy." 

"Do  all  the  fellows  have  nicknames?"  asked 
Tom. 

;' All  the  old  boys  have,  except  one." 

"Who's  that?" 

"  His  real  name  is  Black,  and  it  fits  his  color  so 
well  we  thought  we'd  let  him  keep  it." 

'Who  are  those  five  fellows  down  there,  who  look 
like  each  other's  sisters,  they're  all  so  timid  and 
pretty?" 


36  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"New-comers,"  answered  Harry. 

Tom's  eyes  were  fascinated  by  this  group;  and, 
not  being  satisfied  with  the  information  Harry  had 
vouchsafed,  he  went  to  the  other  end  of  the  car 
where  he  could  interview  them  personally. 

Having  first  satisfied  himself  by  taking  a  deliber- 
ate survey  of  the  five,  much  to  their  uneasiness  and 
manifest  discomfiture,  he  opened  the  conversation 
thus: — 

"I  say,  halloa!" 

The  largest  of  the  group,  a  boy  about  fourteen, 
answered  timidly: — 

'  How  do  you  do,  sir?" 

"I  aint  a  sir:  my  name's  Tom  Playfair.  What's 
your  name?" 

"Alexander  Jones." 

"Whew!  five  Joneses.     Are  any  of  you  twins?" 

"Harry  and  Willie  are  twins,  sir." 
'There  aint  any  triplets  among  you,  are  there?" 

"No,  sir;  not  this  time,"  answered  Alexander 
Jones,  who  in  his  timidity  was  accidentally  face- 
tious. 

"Well,  good-by;  take  care  of  yourselves."  And 
bestowing  a  genial  grin  upon  the  Jones  brothers  he 
returned  to  his  seat. 

The  train,  having  now  crossed  the  great  bridge 
that  spans  the  Mississippi  and  passed  out  of  the  city 
of  Alton,  was  speeding  along  through  the  open 
country.  Without  it  was  pitch  dark,  and  the  sable 
solemnity  of  the  night  was  enhanced  by  an  occasional 
light  that  flashed  before  the  eyes  of  the  passengers 
at  the  windows,  and  then  as  quickly  disappeared. 

'I  say,  what  kind  of  a  place  is  it?"  asked  Tom, 
resuming  his  conversation  with  Harry. 


TOM   PL  A  YF AIR.  37 

"  What  place  ? — the  gravy  station  ?" 

"Is  that  what  you  call  it?" 

'Yes;  they  feed  us  on  corn-bread  and  gravy." 

"  And  don't  you  get  any  meat?" 

"Oh,  yes!  they  give  us  meat  on  Christmas;  and  at 
New  Years  every  one  gets  a  small  piece  of  pie." 

'Gracious!"  cried  Tom,  absently  placing  his  hand 
upon  his  stomach.  "  But  I  suppose  you  have  lots 
of  holidays?" 

'  Not  so  many,  I  can  just  tell  you;  and  then  even 
we've  got  to  stay  cooped  up  in  a  little  yard  that 
isn't  large  enough  to  swing  a  cat  in." 

'They're  not  going  to  treat  me  that  way.  When 
no  one  is  looking  I'll  slip  out  every  chance  I 
get." 

'If  you  do,"  said  Master  Quip,  who  was  bent  on 
scaring  Tom  to  the  utmost,  "you'll  get  collared  by  a 
prefect  and  then  posted." 

'What  do  you  mean  by  'posted'  ?" 

'  Why,  a  great  big  prefect  bangs  you  up  against  a 
tree-box,  or  a  post,  or  a  stonewall;  and  tells  you 
that  if  you  move  from  it  before  three  hours  are  up 
he'll  petrify  you." 

Tom  groaned. 

'I  guess  my  fun  is  all  over,"  he  muttered  in  a 
faltering  voice. 

"Oh,  we  have  fun  sometimes,  you  know." 

'  How  is  that  ?"  asked  Tom  anxiously. 

'  Why,  we  go  out  walking  in  ranks — two  abreast — 
on  recreation  days,  with  a  big  prefect  walking  in 
front  and  another  big  prefect  behind  us.  Then  we 
walk  six  miles  or  so;  that  is,  we  keep  on  walking 
till  most  of  the  little  tads  aren't  able  to  stand  any 
longer.  We  sit  down,  then,  and  rest  for  five  min' 


3 8  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

utes,  before  we  start  to  walk  back  again.   And  while 
we  are  sitting  down  to  rest,  we  are  allowed  to  talk, 

you  know." 

"Why,  can't  you  talk  while  you're  walking?" 

"Not  much,"  said  Harry  emphatically. 

"And  do  you  mean  to  say,"  cried  Tom  excitedly, 
"that  after  resting  five  minutes,  they're  all  able  to 
walk  back  again?" 

"I  didn't  say  any  such  thing." 

"  Are  they  left  behind,  then  ?" 

"No,  indeed;  they  always  have  a  big  hay-wagon 
along;  and  when  a  fellow  can't  walk  they  tumble 
him  in.  But  he's  got  to  be  mighty  tired  before  that 

happens." 

"So,"  said  Tom,  after  a  moment's  reflection, 
"that's  what  you  call  fun?" 

"Certainly;  it's  the  jolliest  kind  of  fun." 

"  I  suppose  you  fellows  consider  a  funeral  a  good 
joke."  Tom  did  not  know  that  he  was  sarcastic. 

"You're  talking  now,"  said  Harry.  "Whenever 
a  boy  dies  we  get  off  night  studies." 

"  Does  a  boy  die  often  out  there?" 

Harry  ignored  the  literal  meaning  of  this  ques- 
tion as  he  answered: — 

"Well,  no;  not  as  many  as  we  would  like.  Only 
two  or  three  a  month." 

"What  do  they  die  of?" 

"They  don't  die  at  all;  they  get  killed  by  being 
hit  over  the  head  with  a  loaded  cane." 

Tom  jumped  up  from  his  seat. 

"Take  it  back,"  he  said,  with  considerable  fierce- 
ness. 

"  Take  what  back  ?"  inquired  his  astonished  friend 
rising  from  his  reclining  position. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  59 

"You've  been  telling  me  yarns.  Take  it  back, 
will  you,  or  you  and  I  aren't  partners  any  more." 

"'  Well,  I'm  willing  to  take  it  back.  I  only  did  it 
for  fun,  just  wanted  to  rattle  you  a  little.  You 
needn't  get  mad  about  it." 

Whither  the  conversation  would  have  drifted  it  is 
impossible  to  say;  for,  as  the  train  stopped  just  then 
at  a  station,  Harry  and  Tom,  with  that  natural  curi- 
osity to  see  and  know  all  things  which  is  the  proud 
prerogative  of  the  American  boy,  dashed  out  upon 
the  platform.  So  satisfied  were  they  with  this  new 
position,  that  they  resolved  to  keep  it  for  a  time 
indefinite,  and  accordingly  squatted  down  on  the 
side  steps.  They  were  not  long  there,  however, 
when  Father  Teeman  ordered  them  inside. 

'Harry,"  suggested  Tom  when  they  had  gained 
their  proper  positions,  "let's  have  a  little  fun." 

"What  are  you  thinking  of  now?"  asked  Harry. 

'*  Let's  play  conductor." 

Harry  glanced  around  the  car  dubiously.  It  was 
now  after  ten  o'clock  ;  and  most  of  the  boys,  wearied 
with  the  excitement  of  the  day,  were  asleep. 

"What's  the  use,"  he  said,  "nobody's  awake." 

"All  the  better." 

"Well,  how'll  we  do  it?" 

"  Did  you  see  that  lantern  on  the  platform  of  the 
car?" 

"Yes." 

"Well,  that's  the  idea.     Come  on." 

Accompanied  by  Harry,  Tom  sallied  forth,  ob- 
tained possession  of  the  lantern,  and  again  walked 
into  the  car.  Stealing  up  to  a  boy  who  was  locked 
in  slumber,  he  thrust  the  lantern  into  his  face  and, 
jn  as  deep  a  voice  as  he  could  assume,  said; — • 


40  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

1  Tickets,  please." 

'  I  haven't  got  it,"  cried  the  boy,  jumping  up  and 
rubbing  his  eyes.  I  gave  mine  to  Father — " 

He  broke  off  when  he  perceived  the  grinning 
face  of  an  unknown  boy  behind  the  lantern,  and  in 
great  rage  he  levelled  a  blow  at  the  joker.  Tom 
very  naturally  held  up  his  hands  to  protect  him- 
self, not  taking  into  account  that  a  lantern  was 
in  one  of  them.  Crash!  out  went  the  light, 
down  clattered  the  glass  in  a  hundred  fragments. 
He  had  guarded  himself  very  well ;  but  the  lantern 
was  the  worse  for  it.  The  youthful  conductors  stood 
aghast. 

'*  Let's  put  the  old  thing  back,"  said  Tom. 

'Yes;  and  we'd  better  hurry,"  counselled  Harry. 

But  before  they  could  carry  out  their  purpose,  the 
porter  came  hurrying  in. 

'  Young  gemmen,  who  done  tuk  my  lantern  from 
the  platform?"  And  as  he  spoke  he  glanced  sternly 
at  the  discomfited  culprits. 

"  I  did,"  said  Tom.  "  Here's  the  old  thing;  looks 
like  it's  exploded,  don't  it?" 

;'Oh,  muffins!"  cried  the  porter,  "it's  ruined,  and 
I'll  be  discharged.  You  young  bantams,  what  did 
you  go  and  spile  my  lantern  for?" 

Tom,  remembering  the  words  of  Scripture  that  a 
soft  answer  turneth  away  wrath,  put  his  hand  into 
his  pocket,  came  out  with  it  filled,  and  said: — 

'Here,  old  fellow,  take  some  candy." 

'Sah!  I  doesn't  want  none  of  your  candy.  Un- 
less I  can  get  a  lantern  at  the  next  station  I'm 
ruined.  Can't  you  pay  for  it?  'cos  if  you  don't,  I'll 
report  you  to  the  company." 

"  How  much  do  you  want?"  asked  Tom  sadly. 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  41 

"Foah  dollars,  sah,"  said  the  negro,  smiling,  and 
muttering  that  he  "  knowed  they  was  gemmen." 

"  I'll  give  you  fifty  cents,"  said  Tom. 

"  Does  you  want  to  ruin  a  poor  man?" 

"  How  does  a  dollar  suit  you  ?" 

"Can't  afford  it,  sah,  for  less  than  two  dollars." 

"Well,  I'll  give  you  a  dollar  and  a  half;  and 
we'll  call  it  square." 

"  Seein'  you're  such  a  puffick  gemmen,  1*11  take  it, 
sah."  And  the  negro  went  his  way  rejoicing  in  a 
neat  bit  of  profit. 

"Boys,  "said  Father  Teeman  coming  upon  them 
from  behind,  "  suppose  you  go  to  sleep,  or  at  least 
give  the  others  a  chance  to  rest.  Get  your  chairs, 
and  keep  them." 

"I  don't  want  any  more  fun  to-night,"  said  Tom 
ruefully. 

"Neither  do  I,"  said  Harry. 

And  the  two  innocents  falling  back  in  their  chairs 
soon  slept  the  sleep  of  the  just. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

TOM  A  RRIVES  AT  ST.  MA  URE1  S  A  ND  MA  KES  THE  A  CQ  UA  IN  T- 
ANCE  OF  JOHN  GREEN  UNDER  CIRCUMSTANCES  NOT 
ENTIRELY  GRATEFUL  TO  THAT  INTERESTING  CHAR- 
A  CTER. 

"T   OOK  out,  Tom;  that's  Pawnee  Creek." 

L/  Tom  thrust  his  head  out  of  the  window  and  saw 
a  small  picturesque  stone-bridge  passing  over  the 
ghost  of  a  stream  of  water.  He  had  hardly  time  to 
catch  one  glimpse  of  it,  when  his  hat  blew  off,  drop- 
ping straight  down  into  the  bed  of  Pawnee  Creek. 
He  drew  in  his  head  mournfully. 


42  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

"I  guess  travelling  is  pretty  expensive,"  he 
growled.  "  There's  twenty-five  cents  for  caramels, 
one  dollar  and  ten  cents  for  railroad  candy  that 
made  me  sick,  eighty-five  cents  for  oranges,  a  dollar 
and  a  half  to  that  nigger  for  his  old  lantern,  and  a 
new  hat  to  Pawnee  Creek." 

'  Oh,  you  can  get  your  hat  back  easily  enough. 
It's  only  a  short  walk  from  the  College.  Now, 
keep  your  eyes  open  one  minute,"  continued  Harry, 
'  See,"  he  added  a  few  minutes  later,  "see  that  road 
leading  along  by  the  hedge?  Many's  the  time  I've 
taken  a  walk  on  it.  Holloa,  there's  the  good  old 
white  fence.  Now  we  are  passing  the  College 
grounds." 

Tom  had  scarcely  time  to  take  a  fair  look  at  the 
fence,  when  the  train  came  to  a  standstill  in  front 
of  a  large  four-story  brick  building  with  the  words 
'*  St.  Maure's  College,"  crowning  its  brow. 

Fronting  the  building  was  a  spacious  garden, 
diversified  by  several  winding  and  shady  walks; 
fronting  the  garden  was  a  high  white  fence,  and 
fronting  the  high  white  fence  were  some  hundred 
and  odd  boys,  with  a  few  professors,  awaiting  the 
old  scholars  and  new  from  the  train.  But  Tom  took 
no  notice  of  all  these  things;  his  eyes,  ears,  feel- 
ings— his  whole  being  seemed  to  be  concentrated 
on  the  Professor  standing  nearest  him.  The  long 
black  cassock  and  cincture  were  something  new  to 
him;  and  so  great  was  his  astonishment  that  the 
loud  cheers  of  the  boys,  the  fierce  whistling  of  the 
locomotive,  the  sharp  cry  of  "All  aboard,"  followed 
by  the  departure  of  the  train,  might,  as  far  as  he 
was  concerned,  have  happened  at  the  other  end  of 
the  world, 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  43 

Harry,  who  had  left  him  to  shake  hands  with  some 
of  his  friends,  found  him, a  few  minutes  later,  stand- 
ing in  exactly  the  same  position. 

'Wake  up,  Tom,"  he  cried,  slapping  his  friend 
on  the  back. 

This  touch  snapped  the  charm. 

1  I  say,  Harry,"  he  at  length  burst  out,  "  for  good- 
ness' sake,  look  at  that  fellow  with  the  gown  on. 
Isn't  he  a  sight?" 

'  Oh,  what  a  greenhorn  you  are!"  said  Harry,  with 
an  easy  air  of  superiority;  "that's  not  a  gown,  it's  a 
cassock,  and  the  man  in  it  is  your  boss:  he's  the 
prefect  of  the  small  boys." 

Tom's  face  expressed  about  two  closely  written 
pages  of  astonishment. 

'  Does  he  always  wear  that — that  thing?" 

'Yes,  come  on  up,  and  I'll  introduce  you." 

'  But  does  he  really  wear  it  all  the  time?" 

"That's  what  I  said." 

;<  Gracious!  I'm  glad  of  that.  I'd  like  to  see  him 
catch  me,  if  I  want  to  run.  Pshaw!  he  looks  for  all 
the  world  like  an  old  lady." 

"You'll  find  out,  pretty  soon,  whether  he  can  run 
or  not,"  retorted  Harry  a  little  sharply;  "and  as  to 
being  an  old  lady,  you'll  change  your  mind  mighty 
soon  if  you  try  any  of  your  tricks  on  him.  Mr. 
Middleton,"  he  continued  addressing  himself  to  the 
subject  of  these  remarks,  "here's  another  St.  Louis 
boy,  my  friend  Tommy  Playfair. " 

The  prefect,  with  a  smile  and  a  word  of  welcome, 
cordially  shook  Tom's  hand,  at  the  same  time  be- 
stowing such  a  clear,  penetrating  look  upon  the 
chubby  upturned  face  that,  as  Tom  afterwards  de- 
clared, "  Mr.  Middleton  seemed  to  see  clear  through 


44  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

his  sailor  shirt  way  back  to  his  shirt-collar  on  the 
other  side." 

"You're  a  wild  colt,  I  suppose." 

"Not  so  very  wild,  sir,"  said  Tom  in  his  gentlest 
tones. 

"Is  he  lively  as  you,  Harry?"  asked  the  prefect. 

"  I'm  not  going  to  be  wild  any  more,  Mr.  Middle- 
ton,"  returned  Harry  in  all  meekness. 

Indeed  the  subdued  air  that  had  come  over  Harry, 
now  that  he  stood  in  the  presence  of  his  prefect,  was 
something  wonderful. 

"Well,  Harry,"  continued  Mr.  Middleton,  "you 
may  take  care  of  your  new  friend  yourself  for  the 
present;  I  see  some  new-comers  over  there  who  ap- 
pear to  be  very  timid  and  ill  at  ease — they  are  quite 
lost."  And  he  hastened  away  to  do  the  honors  to 
the  five  Jones  boys. 

Tom  and  Harry,  left  to  themselves,  sauntered  lei- 
surely  up  the  garden-walk,  the  former  all  eyes  for  his 
new  surroundings. 

"  What's  that  long,  low,  frame  shanty  to  our  right  ?" 
asked  Tom. 

"  That's  the  infirmary;  when  you  get  sick  you  go 
there  and  lay  up  for  repairs." 

"  It  looks  kind  of  snug." 

"Yes;  but  when  a  fellow's  getting  just  well  enough 
to  enjoy  the  jam  and  buttered  toast,  they  turn  him 
out.  This  large  four-story  brick  building  in  front 
of  us  is  the  house  where  the  fathers  and  prefects  have 
their  rooms.  The  lower  floor  of  it  on  the  east  side, 
though,  is  the  refectory  for  us  little  boys.  You  know 
there  are  two  yards,  two  refectories,  two  study-halls, 
and  two  wash-rooms  and  four  dormitories,  so  as  to 
keep  little  boys  and  big  boys  apart;  the  large  room 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  45 

just  above  the  refectory  is  our  study-hall ;  now  come 
on  over  to  our  washroom  and  we'll  wash  and  brush 
up  before  dinner." 

They  turned  to  the  right  on  reaching  the  railed 
steps  leading  up  to  the  brick  building,  and  passed 
between  the  infirmary  on  one  side  and  on  the  other  a 
substantial  three-story  structure  of  stone,  which,  as 
Harry  informed  Tom,  was  the  class-room  building. 

Continuing  straight  on,  they  passed  through  a 
double  gate — generally  ajar,  by  the  way — and  found 
themselves  in  an  open  play-ground  about  four  hun- 
dred feet  long  by  two  hundred  wide. 

"This  is  the  small  boys'  yard,"  volunteered  Harry. 

"Yes?"  queried  Tom  plaintively.  "Does  a  fellow 
have  to  stay  around  here  all  the  time?" 

"All  the  time,  if  he  doesn't  behave  himself.  But 
come  on;  let's  hurry  in  before  the  rush." 

Beside  the  gate,  at  their  right,  and  next  to  the 
class-room  building,  stood  a  two-story  frame  house, 
the  upper  floor  of  which  was  a  dormitory  and  the 
lower  a  wash-room. 

On  entering,  a  novel  scene  presented  itself  to  Tom's 
eyes.  With  the  exception  of  one  plain  and  two  shovel- 
board  tables,  and  a  few  benches,  the  main  body  of 
the  room  was  devoid  of  all  furniture  or  other  obstruc- 
tion. But  lining  the  four  walls  all  around  was  a 
series  of  small  boxes  with  hinged  doors,  each  box  di- 
vided into  an  upper  and  lower  partition,  used  for  the 
keeping  of  soap,  brushes,  toilet  articles,  and  the  like ; 
and  above  the  boxes  were  scattered  towels,  soap,  and 
tin  basins  in  all  manner  of  ungraceful  confusion;  the 
towels,  for  the  most  part,  dangling  from  a  water-pipe, 
ornamented  with  here  and  there  a  faucet.  At  the 
time  that  our  two  friends  entered  there  were  a  few 


46  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

boys  in  the  room,  engaged  at  their  ablutions,  while 
a  prefect,  note-book  in  hand,  was  giving  each  boy  on 
his  entrance  one  of  the  many  boxes. 

"  Howdo,  Mr.  Phelan,"  said  Harry,  tipping  his  hat 
and  shaking  hands  with  his  superior. 

"Why,  Harry!     So  here  you  are  again." 

"Yes,  Mr.  Phelan,  I'm  like  a  bad  penny." 

"In  one  sense,  yes, "said  Mr.  Phelan;  'but you're 
too  modest.  I'm  delighted  to  see  you  again.  And 
I  see  you  have  a  new  friend.  Who  is  this?" 

"  This  is  Tommy  Playfair,  Mr.  Phelan.  And  I  say, 
can't  I  have  my  old  box  again,  same  as  last  year — it 
was  near  that  window,  you  know — and  can't  Tom 
Playfair  have  the  one  next  to  me  ?  I'm  the  only  boy 
here  that  he  knows." 

Mr.  Phelan,  who  had,  in  the  mean  time,  taken  Tom's 
hand  with  a  smile  of  welcome,  assented  to  Master 
Harry's  requests. 

"Thank  you,  sir,"  said  Harry  effusively;  and  he 
conducted  Tom  to  box  number  twenty-nine,  near  the 
window  he  had  pointed  out  in  the  making  of  his 
petition. 

'  This  is  number  twenty-nine — my  box,  Tom — ami 
here's  your's  next  to  mine,  number  thirty." 

But  Tom  was  not  satisfied. 

'  That  little  bit  of  a  box  for  me!"  he  exclaimed. 

'Why,  of  course,"  Harry  responded.       'You  don't 
want  the  earth,  do  you?" 

Without  making  any  answer  to  this  important  ques- 
tion, Tom  walked  over  to  the  prefect. 

'I  say,  Mr.  Phelan,  can't  I  have  another  box,  be- 
sides the  one  you've  given  me?" 

'  Why  ?     What  have  you  to  say  against  the  box  I 
gave  you?" 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  47 


;'Oh,  that's  all  right!  but  I  want  two  boxes." 

*  Indeed!  what  do  you  want  two  boxes  for?" 

'Well,  you  see,  I  want  one  for  my  books,  you 
know." 

'Oh!  "said    the   prefect,  breaking    into  a  smile, 
'you'll  get  a  desk  in  the  study-hall  for  them!" 

"  Oh !  that's  it— is  it  ?"  and  Tom,  satisfied  with  this 
information,  rejoined  Harry  Quip,  who  with  his  eyes 
bulging  out  of  his  head  had  been  watching  Tom's 
proceedings  in  utmost  astonishment. 

In  the  mean  time  the  wash-room  had  been  rapidly 
filling.  Every  other  moment  witnessed  the  appear- 
ance of  new  faces.  Among  those  that  entered,  some, 
notably  the  Jones  boys,  were  timid  beyond  descrip- 
tion; others,  like  Tom,  were  quite  tranquil  and  self- 
possessed;  others  again  were  rather  bold  and  un- 
doubtedly noisy.  This  latter  class  aroused  Tom's 
curiosity. 

'  I  say,  Harry, "  he  inquired,  "  who  are  those  fellows 
in  here  that  talk  so  loud,  and  lift  up  their  shoulders 
when  they  walk  around,  and  go  on  as  if  they  owned 
the  whole  place?" 

'Sh!  don't  talk  so  loud,  Tom,"  said  Harry,  with 
unaffected  seriousness.  "They're  a  few  of  the  old 
boys.  You  see  they're  perfectly  at  home.  They're 
apt  to  be  pretty  hard  on  new-comers." 

"Are  all  the  old  boys  that  way?"  was  Tom's  next 
question. 

'Well,  not  all.     But  a  great  many  are." 

These  queistions  and  answers  afford  considerable 
insight  into  the  economy  of  boarding-school  life. 
We  hear  and  read  a  great  deal  about  the  easy  confi- 
dence,—  nay  boldness — of  old  servants,  old  clerks, 
and  the  like;  but  what  are  they  all  compared  to  the 


48  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

old  student  at  boarding-school  ?  As  a  new-comer, 
he  may  be  the  most  timid,  the  most  meek  of  mortals. 
The  first  few  weeks  of  his  changed  life  he  may  rarely 
speak  above  a  whisper.  But  with  the  rolling  months, 
as  he  picks  up  a  friend  or  so,  evidences  of  ease  and 
natural  bearing  insinuate  themselves  into  his  address. 
At  the  end  of  the  term  he  departs,  it  may  be,  a  quiet, 
gentlemanly  boy.  But,  vacation  over,  lo!  he  returns 
as  one  of  the  owners  of  earth  and  sky — with  al)  the  as- 
surance and  arrogance  attributed  by  the  American 
press  to  a  plumber  in  mid-winter.  Every  look, 
every  tone,  every  gesture  proclaims  in  terms  unmis- 
takable that  he  is  an  old  boy;  that  he  knows  more 
about  life  in  any  phase  than  a  new-comer;  that  he 
is  up  to  every  conceivable  turn  of  school-boy  fortune; 
that  a  new  boy,  how  naturally  gifted  soever,  is  but 
an  inferior  sort  of  creature;  and  that,  in  fine,  there 
is  nothing,  humanly  speaking,  in  the  heavens  above 
or  the  earth  beneath,  or  in  the  waters  under  the  earth, 
that  can  compare  with  that  supremest  of  mortals — 
the  old  boy.  It  would  be  an  injustice,  however,  to 
let  the  reader  suppose  that  all  old  boys  belong  to  this 
class.  Not  so ;  quite  a  goodly  number  are  as  polite, 
unpretending,  gentlemanly,  and  sensible  as  the  most 
refined  new-comer. 

Johnny  Green  was  an  old  boy  of  the  former 
class. 

For  the  last  five  or  six  minutes  he  had  been  mak- 
ing himself  very  conspicuous  in  the  wash-room,  by 
talking  in  a  raised  voice — whenever  the  prefect  was 
out  of  hearing — of  the  way  he  had  "  got  ahead  of  the 
old  man,"  as  he  irreverently  termed  his  father,  of  the 
great  and  disgusting  number  of  "  new  kids"  that  had 
already  appeared  in  the  wash-room,  and  of  their  un- 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  49 

commonly  disagreeable   appearance,   which  Master 
Green  put  down  as  being  "  rather  green." 

Having  completed  his  toilet,  which  consisted 
chiefly,  and  indeed  almost  exclusively,  in  so  arrang- 
ing his  hair  as  to  conceal  almost  entirely  his  freckled 
forehead,  John  Green  stationed  himself  at  the  narrow 
door  of  the  wash-room,  where  he  amused  himself,  at 
such  odd  times  as  the  attending  prefect's  preoccupy- 
ing duties  allowed,  by  tripping  up  various  little  new- 
comers, as  they  chanced  to  leave  or  enter. 

Tom  and  Harry  were  now  going  out;  and  Green 
was  anxiously  awaiting  his  new  victim.  Harry 
advanced  first,  and,  being  an  old  boy,  was  allowed  to 
pass  unmolested ;  then  came  Tom,  who,  by  the  way, 
had  been  watching  Master  Green's  little  practical 
joke  for  fully  five  minutes.  As  Tom  was  verging 
upon  the  threshold,  Green  put  out  his  foot;  suddenly 
a  howl  arose  from  the  bully's  mouth. 

'Why,  good  gracious!"  exclaimed  Tom,  turning 
on  his  steps,  "did  I  walk  on  your  foot?  But  really, 
what  a  big  foot  you've  got!" 

'You  wretched  little  fool,"  roared  the  bully,  who 
was  now  hopping  about  with  a  combination  of  earn- 
estness and  liveliness,  exhilarating  to  see;  "you've 
stepped  on  at  least  five  of  my  corns." 

"That's  too  bad,"  Tom  made  answer,  with  his 
face  screwed  into  its  most  serious  expression.  "  But 
all  the  farmers  say  there's  going  to  be  a  large  corn 
crop  this  year." 

With  this  consolatory  reflection  he  passed  on  arm 
in  arm  with  Harry  Quip,  who  was  struggling,  but 
with  sorry  success,  to  keep  a  straight  face,  leaving  the 
discomfited  Master  Green  to  continue  or  conclude  his 
dance  as  he  pleased 
4 


50  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

Adjoining  the  end  of  the  wash-room  there  was—- 
and is  yet,  doubtless — a  small  shed,  under  whose 
protecting  cover  were  a  turning-pole,  a  pair  of  par- 
allel bars,  a  few  other  articles  of  gymnastics,  and  a 
line  of  benches.  Upon  one  of  these  latter  our  two 
friends  seated  themselves,  calmly  awaiting  the  wel- 
come sound  of  the  dinner  bell.  But  the  calm — ho\v 
history  repeats  itself! — proved  to  be  the  forerunner 
of  a  storm. 

Scarcely  had  they  composed  themselves  in  their 
seats,  when  John  Green,  who  was  wearied  of  dancing, 
and  was  anxious  to  meet  Tom  in  a  place  beyond  sight 
of  all  prefects,  turned  the  corner.  Leisurely  leaning 
his  head  on  his  left  arm,  his  left  arm  on  one  of  the 
parallel  bars,  and  placing  his  right  hand  on  his  hip 
— he  had  made  a  special  study  of  this  special  attitude 
during  vacation — he  fastened  a  stern  gaze  upon  Tom. 
Notwithstanding,  our  hero  seemed  to  be  oblivious  of 
Green's  presence. 

'I  say,"  began  the  bully,  when  he  realized  that 
both  pose  and  gaze  had  shot  wide  of  the  mark,  "  are 
there  any  more  like  you  at  home?" 

"I  don't  know,  I'm  sure,"  answered  Tom  with 
suavity;  "but  if  you  wish,  I'll  write  home  and 
ask." 

At  this  retort  three  or  four  new-comers  who  were 
sitting  near  by,  and  had  been  gazing  about  listlessly, 
broke  into  a  titter.  The  bully  glared  at  them  fero- 
ciously, whereupon  their  faces  fell  into  length  again, 
and  a  far-away  look — the  symptom  of  home-sickness 
' — came  into  their  eyes.  Harry  had  laughed  too; 
but  his  laugh  met  with  no  rebuke ;  he  was  an  old  boy, 
and  in  consequence  was  entitled  to  the  privilege. 

Encouraged  by  the  power  of  his  eye,  Master  Green 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  5 1 

turned  it  in  full  force  upon  Tom,  and  again  addressed 
himself  to  that  unterrified  youth. 

'What's  your  name,  Sonny?" 

Tom's  face  assumed  a  troubled  expression;  he 
passed  his  hand  over  his  forehead  and  through  his 
hair — then,  after  a  pause,  made  answer: 

"Can't  remember  it  just  now.  My  memory's  bad 
when  the  weather's  warm.  It's  an  awful  long  name. 
It  took  the  priest  over  five  minutes  to  get  it  in,  the 
clay  I  was  baptized." 

Another  titter  from  the  listeners,  and  a  loud  laugh 
from  Harry.  But  Green  was  too  astonished  at  the 
coolness  of  the  new-comer  to  check  this  outburst. 

'I  suppose,"  continued  Green,  with  excessive 
irony,  "you  think  you're  funny?" 

"I  guess  I  do,  "answered  Tom  blandly.  "All  the 
family  say  I  am;  and  when  I  was  home  they'd  never 
let  me  go  to  funerals,  for  fear  I'd  make  'em  laugh 
in  the  solemn  parts." 

A  prolonged  giggle  and  a  louder  laugh. 

"  You're  terribly  smart,"  exclaimed  the  withering 
Green,  who,  forgetting  his  pose,  was  now  quite  stiff 
and  bolt  upright. 

"Smart!"  echoed  Tom,  "why,  now  you're  hitting 
the  nail  right  on  the  head.  The  fellows  at  the  school 
I  'tended  last  year  said  they  wouldn't  come  back  if 
I  did,  because  I  always  carried  off  all  the  premiums; 
and  that's  why  I  came  here." 

"  You'd  better  shut  your  mouth  or  I'll  hit  you  one," 
vociferated  the  bully,  drowning  the  laughter  evoked 
by  this  last  retort;  and  as  he  spoke  he  pulled  up  the 
arms  of  his  coat,  revealing  in  the  act  a  pair  of  cuffs 
with  many-flashing  cuff-buttons. 

"  Oh !  if  you're  going  to  strike, "  pursued  Tom  with 


52  TO.lf  PLAYFAIR. 

all  the  placidity  of  a  midspring  zephyr,  '  I  think  I 
had  better  shut  my  mouth,  or  you  might  poke  your 
fist  down  my  throat,  and  then  I'd  be  sick  for  life." 

In  this  quick  rejoinder  there  was  to  the  spectators 
gazing  upon  Green's  clenched  fists  a  certain  obvious- 
ness of  point;  consequently  it  aroused  mirth  in  all 
the  listeners  and  rage  in  the  heart  of  the  bully. 

"You're  a  coward!"  he  foamed. 

'That's  whatjvw  say,"  said  Tom, 

"And  a  sneak." 

"That's  what;w/  say." 

"And  a  mule  thief."  ' 

"  I  never  stole  you." 

This  was  too  much  for  Green;  he  made  a  spring 
4t  Tom.  But  Harry  caught  his  arm. 

'  Hold  on,  Green,"  said  Harry.  "  Just  take  a  boy 
of  your  size." 

Harry  and  Tom,  it  should  be  remarked,  were  each 
4  year  or  two  younger  than  Green. 

'Let  go  of  me,  will  you?"  shouted  the  bully. 

"No;  I  wont." 

Suddenly  John  Green  became  very  quiet,  jumped 
upon  the  parallel  bars,  and  began  swinging  up  and 
down;  Mr.  Middleton  had  just  turned  the  corner. 
Harry  broke  into  a  whistle,  while  Tom  maintained 
his  blandness  to  the  end.  Before  hostilities  could  be 
renewed  the  bell  rang  for  dinner. 

'  You  took  him  up  in  great  shape,  Tom,"  observed 
Harry  on  the  way  to  the  refectory.  "  Where  did  you 
get  that  cool  way  of  saying  things?" 

"  Oh,  I  used  to  have  a  great  many  rows  with  my 
uncle;  and  he  got  me  so's  I  couldn't  get  excited." 

"All  the  same,  you'd  better  keep  your  eyes  open. 
Green  will  pay  you  back  for  your  talk  before  long. 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  53 

Anyhow,  if  I'm  around,  or  any  decent  old  fellow, 
you'll  be  all  right.  He's  a  coward  and  a  mean  boy, 
and  if  he  caught  you  alone  he'd  be  sure  to  take  it 
out  on  you.  But  he  wont  tackle  us  together." 

They  were  now  at  the  door  of  the  refectory;  as 
each  student  entered  Mr.  Middleton  assigned  him  his 
place  at  one  of  the  ten  tables,  each  of  these  being 
laid  for  twelve. 

To  their  regret,  Harry  and  Tom  were  placed  at 
different  tables.  Dinner  passed  off  quietly.  Before 
thanks  had  been  returned,  Mr.  Middleton  announced 
that  each  boy  should,  immediately  on  leaving  the 
refectory,  go  to  the  room  of  the  prefect  of  studies, 
where  he  would  learn  his  class  and  obtain  a  list  of 
the  books  which  he  should  procure  from  the  procura- 
tor, or  (being  translated)  the  buyer. 

Tom  and  Harry,  who  contrived  to  have  their  inter- 
view with  the  prefect  of  studies  at  the  same  time, 
were  both  assigned  to  the  class  of  Rudiments — a  class 
where  the  student  is  prepared  to  enter  upon  the  study 
of  Latin.  They  managed  to  get  their  books  about 
the  same  time,  too;  and  so,  to  their  undisguised  de- 
light, Mr.  Middleton  appointed  them  seats  next  each 
other  in  the  hall  of  studies. 

"Tom,  this  is  just  glorious!"  exclaimed  Harry, 
as  they  emerged  from  the  study  room.  'We're  in 
the  same  class;  and  we're  right  next  each  other  for 
studies.  But  look  here! — while  you  were  getting 
your  books,  and  I  was  outside  waiting  for  you, 
I  heard  something.  Do  you  know  the  first  thing 
Green's  going  to  do  to  you?" 

"No;  what?" 

"Why,  the  first  chance  he  gets  to-day  he's  going 
to  pin  a  paper  on  your  back  with 


54  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

'KICK  ME 
I  AM    A    FOOL' 

on  it.     He's  waiting  his  chance  now  in  the  yard,  I 
think." 

Tom  stood  still,  and  gave  himself  up  for  a  few  sec- 
onds to  reflection;  then  he  resumed  his  walk  and 
observed : — 

"  We'll  fix  him,  if  he  tries  it,  Harry.  I'll  tell  you 
what:  we'll  let  him  go  pretty  far  with  his  joke.  I 
wont  notice  him.  But  when  he  gets  behind  me,  and 
is  pinning  it  on,  you  take  out  your  handkerchief — 
will  you?  Of  course  you'll  be  standing  in  front  and 
facing  me." 

"What' 11  you  do?" 

'You'll  see.     He  wont  enjoy  the  joke  very  much 
anyhow." 

No  sooner  had  the  boys  entered  the  yard,  than 
they  noticed  that  John  Green  was  eyeing  them 
closely. 

'He's  waiting  his  chance,"  whispered  Harry. 

'Just  so,"  answered  Tom.     "Say,  let's  go  down 
by  the  hand-ball  alley." 

Harry  acquiesced,  and  both  made  their  way  to  the 
further  end  of  the  yard.  Harry,  with  his  hands  in  his 
pockets,  leaned  against  the  body  of  the  alley  so  as  to 
take  in  the  whole  playground,  while  Tom,  also  hands 
in  pockets,  stood  facing  Harry,  commanding  a  vietf 
of  nothing  save  what  was  included  in  the  two  walls  of 
the  alley.  Green,  in  the  mean  time,  was  following  in 
their  wake  with  stealthy  steps;  even  Tom  could  di- 
vine this  from  the  expression  on  Harry's  countenance. 
At  length  Green  had  secured  a  suitable  position  for 
pinning  on  the  placard.  He  stooped.  Forthwith 
Harry  drew  out  his  handkerchief. 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  55 

'Talking  of  jumping,"  exclaimed  Tom  at  once, 
"how's  this?"  and  he  gave  a  sharp  backward  kick 
with  his  right  foot. 

Green  received  the  full  force  of  this  on  his  shins — 
the  tenderest  part  of  him,  perhaps,  by  the  law  of  com* 
pensation;  for  his  head  was  within  a  little  of  being 
actually  impregnable  both  as  to  blows  and  as  to 
ideas. 

On  the  moment,  Green  testified  his  presence  by  a 
prolonged  howl. 

;'  Good  gracious!"  Tom  exclaimed,  turning  around 
and  addressing  Green,  who  with  both  hands  was  hold- 
ing one  knee,  and  hopping  enthusiastically  with  the 
only  foot  he  had  at  liberty :  "  Why  how  in  the  world 
did  you  come  to  be  behind  me?  You're  terribly 
unlucky — aint  you?" 

A  crowd  of  boys,  who  had  been  watching  Green's 
ill-timed  attempt  to  fasten  on  the  placard,  were  now 
shouting  and  laughing,  as  they  hurried  down  the  yard 
to  take  in,  in  fuller  detail,  the  victim's  lively  and 
novel  dance. 

"  Does  it  hurt  ?"  asked  Tom  compassionately,  as  he 
picked  up  the  placard,  which  Green  had  allowed  to 
fall  to  the  ground. 

"Does  it  hurt?"  bawled  Green,  suspending  his 
dance  to  give  full  effect  to  his  answer.  'Oh  no!  it 
doesn't  hurt  at  all.  It's  awful  pleasant,  you  fool!" 
And  with  this  burst  of  eloquence,  he  resumed  his 
dancing. 

"I  say,  what's  this?"  enquired  Tom,  holding  the 
placard  at  arm's  length,  and  scanning  it  critic- 
ally. "  Is  this  your  paper?" 

"Yes;  and  I  wish  you  and  that  paper  were  in 
Halifax." 


56  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

The  intense  devotion  of  this  sentiment  was  beyond 
doubt. 

"But,"  pursued  Tom,  "you've  got  'kick  me*  writ- 
ten on  it.  So  you've  got  what  you  want.  And  are 
you  really  and  truly  a  fool  ?" 

This  question  so  angered  Green  that  he  lost  sight 
of  his  pain.  Releasing  his  injured  leg,  he  made  a 
savage  rush  at  Tom.  But  this  time,  too,  his  inten- 
tions were  frustrated.  George  Keenan,  a  boy  who 
had  attended  St.  Maure's  for  several  years,  and  who, 
judging  by  his  modesty,  didn't  seem  to  know  it, 
caught  the  aggressor's  arm  with  a  grip  which  elicited 
another  howl. 

"Let  him  alone,  Green;  he  served  you  right. 
You've  no  business  to  be  picking  on  boys  under  your 
size  every  chance  you  get.  And  look  here, — you'd 
better  not  touch  him  when  John  Donnell  or  I  am 
around."  And  George  walked  away. 

The  bully  was  too  crestfallen  to  face  his  fellow- 
students.  Scowling  and  shame-faced,  he  hobbled 
off  to  the  infirmary  to  get  his  leg  "  painted  "  with 
iodine. 

George  Keenan,  who  has  here  entered  upon  the 
scene,  merits  a  few  words.  He  was  a  model  boy ;  not 
the  kind  of  a  model  boy  that  figures  in  many  tales  for 
the  young;  but  such  a  model  as  you  may  expect  to 
meet  with  occasionally,  nay — God  be  thanked  for 
it — oftentimes  in  real  life. 

At  baseball,  running,  handball,  football,  and  all 
manner  of  athletic  games,  no  one  was  more  skilled 
than  George.  He  was  small,  undergrown  for  his 
years,  and  slightly  made;  still  his  strength  was  un- 
questioned. And  yet  no  one  had  ever  known  George 
to  exert  his  strength  for  mean  or  low  purposes,  no 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  57 

one  had  ever  known  him  to  use  his  influence  for  aught 
save  what  was  ennobling.  He  was  everybody's  friend 
— with  him  the  bad  were,  for  the  nonce,  good;  and 
the  good  were  better.  Withal,  he  was  cheerful,  jo- 
cose, and  a  bit  of  a  wag.  He  made  his  way  through 
life  with  the  brightness  and  wholesomeness  of  a  sun- 
beam. Nor  is  George,  among  the  general  run  of 
boarding-school  students,  an  isolated  character. 

In  every  well-conducted  boarding  school  there  are 
hearts  as  warm  and  minds  as  noble.  These  boys 
are  themselves  the  least  self-conscious  of  mortals. 
Though  they  know  it  not,  they  are  doing  work,  and 
good  work,  too,  for  the  Lord  and  Saviour  whom  in 
the  nobility  of  their  hearts  they  love  with  manly 
tenderness. 


CHAPTER   V. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  IS   PERSUADED   TO  GO   TO  SLEEP. 

NO  doubt  many  of  my  readers  have  been  asking 
themselves  what  manner  of  hero  is  Tom  Play- 
fair.  Couldn't  the  author  have  selected  a  better,  or 
at  least  a  more  refined  character  ?  This  Tom  is  bold, 
given  to  slang,  rather  forward,  self-willed,  and — but 
stay,  reader,  let  us  get  in  a  word.  We  throw  up  our 
hands,  and  grant  the  full  force  and  truth  of  all  these 
naughty  adjectives.  Indeed  there  are  faults,  and 
great  faults,  to  be  found  in  Tom.  There  are  many 
flawstin  the  crystal.  But  what  then?  These  little 
flaws,  after  all,  are  not  irremediable.  Tom  may  be 
a  real  gem — even  if  it  be  that  the  gem  is  in  the  rough. 
Some  of  his  flaws,  indeed,  are  simply  untrimmed  vir- 


58  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

tues.  His  boldness  is  an  exaggerated  manliness — * 
certainly  it  has  nothing  of  the  bully  in  its  ring;  his 
slang  is  that  ineffectual  struggle  for  humor  so  notice- 
able in  many  young  people ;  and  in  them, at  least — we 
speak  not  for  maturer  sinners  in  this  line — pardona- 
ble; his  forwardness  is  the  exaggeration  of  what  we 
all  love  and  hold  fast  to — American  independence. 
But  enough  on  the  score  of  excuses.  Let  us  hope 
that  the  edges  may  be  rounded ;  that  the  gem  in  the 
rough  may  sparkle  unto  the  admiration  of  many,  that 
the  exaggeration  of  American  virtues  may  be  subdued 
to  that  golden  mean  which  we  all  admire  so  much 
and  practise  so  little. 

Tom's  dialogue  with  the  shin-worried  Green,  while 
drawing  our  hero  into  prominent  notice,  gained  him 
a  host  of  admirers  and  a  few  friends. 

As  he  and  Harry  were  taking  a  stroll  about  the 
yard,  shortly  after  Green's  departure  in  quest  of  that 
boarding-school-boy  panacea,  iodine,  he  was  accosted 
by  a  little  lad  in  knickerbockers,  his  expression  a 
mixture  of  timidity  and  wistfulness. 

'Well,  my  son,"  said  Tom,  who  was  about  half  an 
inch  taller  than  the  stranger,  "what  can  I  do  for 
you?" 

'I'm  so  glad  you  didn't  let  that  Green  get  ahead 
of  you.  He's  mean;  he  pinched  me  for  nothing,  and 
asked  me  whether  my  mother  knew  I  was  out — and — 
and  I  don't  want  to  stay  here.  My  baby  sister" — 
here  the  little  man  began  to  cry — "wont  know  me 
when  I  get  home." 

'He's  homesick — got  it  bad,"  whispered  Harry  in 
a  kindly  tone. 

'Here,"  said  Tom;  "take  some  candy." 

The  youngster  accepted  the  candy,  and  tried  to 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  59 

cheer  up;    he  ceased  crying,  though  he  gave  vent  at 
intervals  to  deep  sighs. 

;<  Come   and    sit    down    here,"    continued    Tom. 
'Now,  what's  your  name?" 

'''  Joe  Whyte.  My  pa  is  a  doctor  in  Hot  Springs, 
and  he's  got  lots  of  money,  and  rides  round  in  a  horse 
and  buggy." 

'*  It  must  be  fun  riding  round  in  a  horse,"  observed 
Harry.  "  Does  he  do  that  often  ?" 

Joe  relented  into  a  smile. 

'*  Haven't  you  any  friends  here?"  pursued  Tom. 

'No;  and  I  want  to  go  home,"  sobbed  Joe,  in  a 
fatal  relapse.  'The  boys  are  all  mean  here;  and 
nothing  is  good." 

"Oh,  you  don't  know  'em  well  enough  )%t,"  said 
Tom ;  and  he  added  with  ingenuous  modesty,  "  Harry 
and  myself  are  good  fellows.  You  just  wait,  Joe, 
till  you  grow  up  to  be  a  man,  and  then  you  wont  have 
to  go  to  boarding-school,  you  know.  Then  your  papa 
will  die,  and  you'll  have  all  his  money,  and  go  riding 
round  in  a  horse  and — " 

'Boo-oo!"  interrupted  Joe,  appalled  by  this  ill- 
directed  bit  of  word-painting.  "I  don't  want  my 
papa  to  die." 

"  Don't  get  so  excited,"  put  in  Harry.  "  He  isn't 
going  to  die  now." 

"I  don't  want  him  to  die  at  all,"  blubbered  the 
wretched  victim  of  homesickness.  "  I  want  to  go 
home  right  now,  and  see  him  and  mamma  and  Sissy 
and  little  Jane  and  all  of  'em." 

"I  tell  you  what,"  said  Tom;  "  let's  be  friends, 
and  then  you  wont  be  lonesome.  What  do  you  say, 
Joe?" 

With  one  hand  rubbing  his  eyes,  Joe  extended  the 


60  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

other  first  to  Tom,  then  to  Harry.     Each  of  these 
young  gentlemen  shook  it  warmly. 

Master  Joe's  case  is  a  fair  specimen  of  the  malady 
which  attacks  almost  invariably  the  new  boy — home- 
sickness. Like  measles,  whooping-cough,  or  sea- 
sickness, few  escape  it  and,  still  true  to  the  likeness, 
it  seizes  upon  its  victim  with  various  degrees  of  ma- 
lignity. Under  an  ordinary  attack,  the  patient  feels 
fully  convinced  that  life  outside  the  home-circle  is 
not  worth  living.  Games,  meals,  even  candies  lose 
their  zest.  Like  the  quality  of  mercy,  homesickness 
is  "mightiest  in  the  mightiest";  the  large  boy  when 
afflicted  with  it  is  a  piteous  sight  indeed. 

After  five  o'clock  supper,  the  students  took  recrea- 
tion till  six,  when  a  bell  summoned  them  to  the  hall 
of  studies.  Here  they  were  at  liberty  to  sort  and 
examine  their  books,  and  write  their  parents  assurance 
of  their  safe  arrival. 

Tom  on  entering  noticed  that  the  older  boys,  in- 
stead of  seating  themselves  at  once,  were  all  stand- 
ing in  silence.  Following  their  implicit  guidance, 
he  too  stood  beside  his  desk,  and  fixed  an  inquiring 
look  upon  Mr.  Middleton,  who  from  a  raised  platform 
commanded  a  view  of  the  entire  study  hall. 

Whilst  Tom  was  still  wondering  why  the  old  boys 
were  so  slow  about  sitting  down,  the  prefect  made 
the  sign  of  the  cross  and  recited  the  "  Veni  Sancte 
Spiritus"  This  beautiful  prayer  concluded,  all  ad- 
dressed themselves  to  their  work. 

Instead  of  beginning  to  study,  Tom  sat  for  some 
time  curiously  watching  the  movements  of  those 
about  him.  The  old  boys,  with  scarce  an  exception, 
were  inscribing  their  respective  names  in  their  new 
books,  the  new-comers  were  rummaging  in  their  desks 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  61 

in  a  vain  attempt  at  appearing  easy  and  self-possessed. 
Mr.  Middleton  seemed  to  have  his  eyes  on  every  one. 

Presently  a  professor  entered  the  study  hall,  and 
Mr.  Middleton  retired.  This  professor  was  the  reg- 
ular study-keeper. 

Tom  gazed  at  the  new  official  for  some  moments, 
and  then  turned  to  Harry. 

"  I  say,  what's  the  name  of  that  man?" 

"Sh!"  said  Harry. 

Throwing  a  look  of  disgust  at  his  admonitor,  Tom 
turned  to  Joe  Whyte,  who  sat  at  his  left  side,  and  re- 
peated the  question. 

"I  don't  know,"  returned  Joe. 

"Say,  what  are  you  going  to  do  this  hour?" 

"  I'm  goin'  to  write  home  and  ask  them  to  take  me 
away  from  this  place." 

"Oh,  don't  be  in  a  hurry  about  that!"  whispered 
Tom;  "after  a  few  days  you  will  begin  to  know  the 
fellows  better  and — "  Just  then  a  hand  was  laid 
upon  his  arm,  and  Tom  on  lifting  his  eyes  saw  the 
study-keeper  before  him,  looking  rather  stern  than 
otherwise. 

"Keep  silence  in  here,  Playfair,"  he  said,  "no 
talking;  take  out  your  books  and  paper  and  go  to 
work." 

"Say,  Mister,  how  did  you  come  to  know  my 
name?" 

The  study-keeper  bit  his  lip  to  restrain  a  smile  and 
moved  to  another  part  of  the  hall.  The  secret  of  his 
knowing  Tom's  name  was  very  simple. 

A  map  is  made  of  each  boy's  place  in  the  study- 
hall,  wash-room,  refectory,  dormitory,  and  chapel. 
One  glance  at  the  map  will  inform  the  presiding 
officer  whether  each  boy  be  at  his  post,  and,  in  conse- 


62  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

quence  of  this  system,  a  boy  cannot  absent  himself 
from  college  for  any  period  beyond  an  hour  at  the 
most  without  being  missed. 

Thus  admonished,  Tom  opened  his  desk,  took  out 
his  writing  materials,  and  after  great  effort,  much 
blotting  of  paper,  soiling  of  fingers,  and  intellectual 
travail,  delivered  himself  of  the  following  letter: — 

ST.  MARS  COLLEGE, 

Sept.  5,  1 8  8-. 
MY  DEAR  AUNT  JANE: 

I  take  my  pen  in  hand  to  let  you  know  that  i  am  well,  hope- 
ing  this  leaves  you  the  same.  St.  Mars  is  a  pretty  jolly  sort 
of  a  place;  and  i  am  not  one  bit  home  sick;  lots  of  new  kids 
are.  Tell  Jeff  Thomas  I  will  write  to  him  soon.  Who  is  tak- 
in  care  of  my  pijins?  Tell  papa  my  love.  Is  my  rooster  with 
the  long  tale  all  rite  ?  My  money  is  nearly  all  gone.  I  had  an 
axident  on  the  car  comin  here,  and  I  had  to  pay  the  nigger 
porter  for  an  old  lantern.  Good  bye.  I  am  goin  to  study  rite 
hard.  Your  lovely  nephew, 

THOMAS  PLAYFAIR. 

While  he  was  addressing  the  envelope  destined  to 
carry  away  this  choice  bit  of  literature,  he  felt  some 
one  poking  him  in  the  back.  On  turning,  he  per- 
ceived a  hand  extended  from  under  the  desk  behind 
him,  holding  a  bit  of  paper.  Tom  received  the  note. 
It  read  as  follows: 

MISTER  PLAYFAIR: 

Say  will  you  fite  me  at  recess,  behind  the  old  church  bilding. 

Yrs., 

JOHN  GREEN. 
P.  S.     You're  a  sneak. 

To  which  Tom  elaborately  replied: 

DEAR  MISTER  GREEN: 

How  did  you  come  to  be  called  green?  and  why  do  the  boys 
call  you  crazy  ?  How  is  your  knee  ?  does  it  hurt  much  ?  You 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  63 

don't  spell  well.  Fife  is  wrong;  it  ought  to  be  fight.  You  are 
biger  than  i  am  and  older.  Insted  of  fighting  you  ought  to 
study  your  speling  book.  Fightin'  is  low  and  i  don't  want  to 
and  you  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  yourself.  When  you  rite  home 
give  my  love  to  your  papa  and  mamma. 

Yrs., 

THOMAS  PLAYFAIR. 

After  passing  this  note,  he  took  a  leisurely  survey 
of  the  study-hall,  stretched  his  arms;  then  concluded 
to  go  out.  Taking  up  his  cap,  which,  by  the  way,  he 
had  borrowed  from  Harry  Quip  on  losing  his  own, 
he  walked  toward  the  door.  Just  as  he  was  opening 
it,  his  progress  was  arrested  by  the  study-keeper's 
voice. 

'  Playfair,  go  back  to  your  seat."     This  in  a  very 
imperative  tone. 

'I'm  going  out,  sir,"  said  Tom,  pausing  with  his 
hand  on  the  door-knob  to  impart  this  information. 

;'  Go  back  to  your  seat." 

With  a  look  of  patient  unmerited  persecution  Tom 
returned  to  his  place,  casting  wrathful  glances  on  the 
way  at  several  who  were  grinning  at  his  mistake. 

A  little  later  the  bell  rang;  and  all  repaired  to  the 
yard  to  enjoy  a  few  minutes  of  recess. 

This  over,  they  recited  night  prayers  in  common, 
and  retired  to  their  dormitories  for  the  night. 

The  novel  sight  of  a  hundred  boys  undressing  as 
one  struck  Tom  as  being  rather  funny  than  otherwise. 
Indeed  he  was  so  absorbed  in  a  humorous  survey  of 
this  spectacle  that  he  stood  stock  still,  grinning 
broadly  and  incessantly  for  some  minutes.  A  hand 
upon  his  arm  called  him  down  from  his  humorous 
heights.  It  was  Mr.  Middleton. 

;' Playfair,"  he  whispered,  "have  you  anything  on 
hand  just  now?" 


64  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

'No,  sir,"  answered  Tom,  wondering  what  would 
come  next. 

'Well,  then,  you  had  better  undress,  and  get  to 
bed."  And  Mr.  Middleton  resumed  the  saying  of  his 
beads,  as  he  continued  his  route  up  and  down  the 
passage  formed  between  the  beds. 

"Pshaw!"  growled  Tom.  "A  fellow  can't  look 
cross-eyed  here,  but  he  gets  hauled  up  for  it.  I  don't 
see  any  harm  in  looking  around."  And  sadly  he 
proceeded  to  pull  off  his  sailor-shirt.  He  had  just 
succeeded  in  getting  this  garment  free  of  one  arm, 
when  he  perceived  Harry  Quip  some  ten  or  eleven 
beds  further  off.  Harry  caught  his  glance  and  smiled. 
The  smile  brought  sunshine  back  into  Tom's  heart; 
suspending  further  operations  on  the  sailor-shirt,  he 
playfully  put  the  thumb  of  his  right  hand  to  his  nose, 
and  made  the  popular  signal  with  his  fingers. 

Instead  of  taking  this  friendly  and  jocose  demon- 
stration in  the  spirit  in  which  it  was  given,  Harry's 
face  lengthened  into  dismay,  while  his  eyes  glanced 
apprehensively  in  the  direction  of  Mr.  Middleton. 
Tom,  following  the  movement  of  Harry's  eyes,  turned 
and — yes!  there  it  was  again — saw  Mr.  Middleton 
bearing  down  upon  him. 

'Well,  I'm  switched,"  he  thought,  as  he  slipped 
out  of  his  clothes  with  marvellous  speed,  "  if  he  isn't 
makin'  for  me  again."  And  leaping  into  bed  he 
buried  his  face  in  the  pillow. 

'Young  man,"  whispered  Mr.  Middleton,  bending 
down  over  him,  '  we  want  no  levity  in  this  dormi- 
tory." 

"No  what,  sir?" 

"No  levity." 

"What's  that,  sir?" 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  65 

;'  Sh !  don't  talk  so  loud.  I  mean  you  mustn't  talk, 
whisper,  laugh,  or  make  signs.  Do  you  understand 
me?" 

"Yes;  but—" 

"That'll  do;  go  to  sleep  now;  and  if  you  have 
any  objections  to  make  I'll  hear  you  in  the  morn- 
ing." 

"He's  a  nice  one,"  grumbled  Tom  to  his  pillow. 
'He  wont  give  a  fellow  any  chance  to  explain." 

Two  minutes  later  he  was  sleeping  a  dreamless 
sleep. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

IN  WHICH  GREEN  AND   TOM  RUN  A  RACE  WHICH  PROVES 

DISASTROUS  TO  BOTH. 

CLANG — clang — clang — clang — clang ! 
"Halloa!  what's  the  matter  ?"  cried  Tom,  in  the 
midst  of  this  clatter,  as  he  jumped  out  of  bed  and 
rubbed  his  eyes. 

The  cause  of  the  din  was  a  large,  iron-tongued 
bell,  which  Mr.  Middleton  was  ringing  right  lustily. 

Tom  looked  about  him;  all  the  students,  with  the 
exception,  of  course,  of 'several  of  the  old  boys,  who 
were  quite  accustomed  to  this  unearthly  sound,  were 
up  and  dressing. 

"It's  a  little  too  early  for  me,"  thought  Tom;  and, 
satisfied  that  the  horrid  bell  had  become  silent,  he 
turned  in  again.  He  was  peacefully  dozing  off  when 
a  hand  was  laid  upon  him. 

"  Playfair,  did  you  hear  the  bell  ?" 

"  Did  I  ?     I  should  think  I  did !     That's  all  right, 
5 


66  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

Mr.  Middleton;    but  I  guess  I  don't  care  about  get' 
ting  up  just  now." 

The  sentence  was  barely  out  of  his  mouth,  when, 
as  it  appeared  to  him,  there  was  a  mild  form  of  earth- 
quake in  the  vicinity;  and  before  he  could  realize 
that  anything  had  happened  at  all,  he  was  sprawling 
on  the  floor  with  his  mattress  on  top. 

"I  say,  what  did  you  do  that  for?"  he  sputtered; 
but  Mr.  Middleton  was  already  half-way  down  the 
aisle. 

"  If  that's  the  way  they  treat  a  fellow  the  first  day, 
what'll  they  do  on  the  last  ?"  he  murmured.  "  I  don't 
think  this  school  is  much  account  anyhow." 

On  rising,  the  boys  were  allowed  half  an  hour  for 
washing  and  dressing.  Then  came  Mass,  followed 
by  studies  and  breakfast. 

At  nine  o'clock — on  this  particular  day — they  had 
what  is  technically  termed  ;'  Lectio  brevis  " ;  that  is, 
the  teachers  of  the  respective  classes  gave  their 
boys  a  short  talk,  and  appointed  lessons  for  the  next 
day. 

Tom  was  mildly  surprised,  and  a  trifle  dismayed, 
when  he  discovered  that  his  teacher  for  the  year  was 
none  other  than  Mr.  Middleton.  But  after  listening 
in  silence  for  some  minutes  to  his  professor's  opening 
speech,  he  concluded  that  perhaps  things  might  not 
be  so  bad. 

The  "  Lectio  brevis  "  was  compressed  into  an  hour, 
and  the  students  had  the  rest  of  the  day  free. 

Shortly  after  dinner  Harry  Quip,  accompanied  by 
a  strange  boy,  approached  Tom. 

"Tom,  here's  a  particular  friend  of  mine,  Willie 
Ruthers;  and  I'm  sure  he'll  be  a  great  friend  of 
yours." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  6  7 

Willie  and  Tom  shook  hands,  while  Will  murmured 
sheepishly,  "  Happy  to  see  you  ' 

"  Wont  you  take  some  candy  ?"  inquired  Tom. 

The  candy  was  gratefully  received,  and  the  friend- 
ship of  the  two  was  firmly  based. 

"  Have  you  been  out  walking  yet?"  asked  Willie. 

"No;  and  that's  a  fact;  Harry,  we  ought  to  go  and 
get  that  hat  of  mine  at  Pawnee  Creek." 

Obtaining  permission  from  the  prefect,  they  set 
out  on  their  walk  along  the  railroad  track,  and  in 
course  of  time  discovered  the  hat  partially  embedded 
in  the  mud.  When  on  their  return  they  came  near 
the  college,  Harry  proposed  that  they  should  pass 
through  the  "Blue-grass."  The  "Blue-grass"  is  a 
favorite  resort  of  the  boys.  It  lies  just  beyond  the 
college  yard,  and  is  well  shaded  with  large,  graceful 
pine  trees. 

It  chanced  on  this  particular  day  that  the  only  oc- 
cupants of  the  "  Blue-grass"  were  John  Green  and 
three  lads  of  similar  taste. 

Green  caught  sight  of  our  trio  from  afar. 

"Oh,  I  say,  boys,"  he  exclaimed,  "  here  comes  the 
funny  man.  Come  on  here,  you  young  sneak,"  he 
added,  addressing  himself  to  Tom,  "and  we'll  settle 
our  accounts." 

"Tom,"  whispered  Harry  earnestly,  "let's  run; 
those  fellows  with  him  wont  let  me  or  Willie  help 
you;  and  Green  has  been  acting  like  a  bully  since 
he's  come  back  from  vacation." 

"I'm  not  going  to  run,  unless  I've  got  to, "  answered 
Tom;  and  he  walked  straight  on,  intending  to  pass 
by  Green  and  his  following.  But  Green  put  himself 
squarely  in  the  trio's  path. 

"Where  are  you  going,  funny  man?"  he  inquired. 


68  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"I'm  going  to  St.  Maure's  this  year.  How's  your 
shin  ?" 

"You've  got  to  fight  me,  you  sneak,"  pursued 
Green,  reddening  with  anger  at  the  retort. 

"But  I  don't  want  to  fight,  you  see." 

"  I  don't  care  a  cent  what  you  want.  Put  up  your 
hands.  I'll  teach  you  to  sass  me.  You  can't  get 
out  of  it!" 

"  Can't  I  though  ?  Catch  me,"  and  as  Tom  spoke 
he  dashed  away  in  the  direction  of  Pawnee  Creek. 

It  took  some  seconds  for  Green  to  realize  this  sud- 
den and  utterly  unexpected  change  of  front;  then 
with  a  shout  of  wrath  he  gave  chase. 

Before  leaving  home,  it  may  be  explained,  Tom 
had  made  a  solemn  promise  to  his  Aunt  Meadow  not 
to  engage  at  fisticuffs  under  any  circumstances. 

He  was  a  good  runner  for  his  age;  but  he  lacked 
the  speed  of  his  older  and  longer-legged  pursuer. 
Although  he  had  obtained  a  start  of  some  twenty-five 
or  thirty  feet,  he  perceived  presently  that  he  was  los- 
ing ground  rapidly.  For  all  that  the  serenity  habit- 
ual to  his  chubby  face  did  not  diminish  one  whit; 
and  as  he  turned  his  head  from  time  to  time  to  make 
a  reconnoissance,  his  expression  was  as  tranquil  as 
though  he  were  racing  for  amusement. 

The  scene  was  an  interesting  one.  Tom  was  fol- 
lowed by  Harry  and  Willie,  while  Green  was  cheered 
on  by  his  three  cronies,  who  were  also  hot  in  pur- 
suit. 

Before  Tom  had  got  clear  of  the  "  Blue-grass " 
trees,  he  saw  that  he  was  sure  of  being  captured,  un- 
less he  could  introduce  some  new  feature  into  his 
flight.  His  invention  did  not  fail  him.  Suddenly 
he  wheeled  sharply,  and,  assisted  by  a  tree  which  he 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  69 

caught  hold  of,  turned  at  aright  angle  to  his  former 
line  of  retreat. 

In  nimbleness  Green  could  not  compare  with  Tom ; 

• 

and  so,  before  he  could  adjust  himself  to  the  change, 
our  hero  obtained  a  new  lease  of  flight.  All  were 
now  speeding  towards  the  line  of  low  bluffs  which 
fronted  the"  Blue-grass,"  and  divided  it  off  from  the 
prairie  land  beyond. 

But  it  seemed  quite  evident  that  Tom  could  not 
hold  out  long  enough  to  gain  the  bluffs. 

Nearer  and  nearer  panted  Green.  '  He  was  com- 
ing along  in  short  pants,"  Harry  Quip  subsequently 
remarked  to  some  of  his  schoolmates;  who  roused 
his  indignation  and  cut  short  his  narrative  with  their 
laughter  over  his  remarkable  bull — in  his  case,  orig- 
inal. Well — nearer  and  nearer  came  the  pursuer. 
The  interval  between  the  two  was  scarcely  twelve 
feet. 

"You're  gone,  Tom!"  cried  Harry. 

"  It's  no  use,"  added  Willie  Ruthers,  as  he  ceased 
running,  "you  can't  get  away." 

Tom  was  now  within  twenty  yards  of  the  bluff, 
while  his  pursuer  was  but  six  or  seven  feet  behind. 
Suddenly  Tom  came  to  a  full  stop,  turned,  and  as 
his  pursuer  shot  on,  whisked  aside,  and  put  out  his 
foot. 

Green  took  the  foot  offered  him,  and  went  right  on, 
not  as  a  runner,  but  more  after  the  manner  of  a  fly- 
ing squirrel.  He  came  down  all-fours  on  a  soft  bank 
of  earth,  and  in  no  wise  injured  picked  himself  up. 

But  before  he  was  well  on  his  feet,  Harry  Quip 
had  come  to  the  rescue  with  a  suggestion. 

"Tom,  Tom!"  he  cried,  running,  as  he  spoke,  at  an 
angle  toward  the  bluff,  "run  this  way  for  all  you're 


70  TOM   PL  A  YFAIR. 

worth.     We're  near  Keenan's  cave;    and  if  we  can 
make  it,  we'll  bar  them  out." 

Long  before  Harry  had  ceased  speaking,  Tom  was 
making  for  this  prospective  sanctuary.  The  cave  in 
question  was  fronted  by  a  rough,  clumsy,  wooden 
structure,  in  general  appearance  not  unlike  a  storm- 
door. 

Tom's  eyes  grew  brighter.  He  felt  sure  of  him- 
self now.  Once  within  the  cave,  Harry,  Willie,  and 
himself  might  bid  defiance  to  all  outside. 

Nearer  and  nearer  loomed  the  cave;  one  hundred 
and  fifty  feet  more,  and  all  was  well.  Green  was 
far  behind,  and  was  not  running  as  at  first. 

But  alas!  as  Tom  with  his  eyes  fixed  on  the  refuge 
was  making  bravely  on,  he  struck  his  foot  against  a 
stone  and  fell  violently  to  the  ground.  It  was  an 
ugly  fall.  But  Green  did  not  pause  to  make  any  in- 
quiries. Throwing  himself  upon  Tom,  he  proceeded 
to  strike  him  blow  after  blow  upon  the  partially  up- 
turned face. 

In  falling,  Tom  had  incurred  an  ugly  cut  on  the 
head.  The  pain  was  intense;  more  than  enough  to 
bear  without  the  savage  attacks  of  Green. 

'  Give  up — will  you?"  roared  the  young  savage. 

'Give  up  what?"  groaned  Tom,  who,  dizzy  and 
weak  and  suffering  as  he  was,  could  not  take  his 
tormentor  seriously. 

The  bully  continued  his  brutal  work.  Tom's  con- 
dition was  becoming  serious.  Harry  and  Willie, 
who  had  attempted  to  come  to  his  assistance,  were 
forcibly  held  back  by  Pitch  and  his  companions. 

'Now  will  you  give  up?"  asked  Green,  again 
pausing. 

Tom  felt  that  he  was  fainting;  lights  flickered 


It 

u 


PLAYFAIR.  71 

fore  his  eyes,  strange  noises  rang  in  his  ears; — for 
all  that  he  had  no  idea  of  "  giving  up. "  Summoning 
all  his  strength,  he  said,  almost  in  his  natural  tones : — 
I  think  you  asked  me  that  before." 
Well,  I'll  punch  you  so's  you  wont  know  your- 
self next  time — " 

Green  never  finished  his  speech;  a  vigorous  jerk 
at  this  juncture  brought  his  jaws  together  with  a 
snap,  and  sent  him  to  grass  with  almost  lightning- 
like  rapidity. 

George  Keenan  stood  over  him.  But  even  whe'i 
released,  Tom  made  no  move;  he  had  fainted. 

'  Quip !"  cried  Keenan,  "  run  over  to  our  cave  and 
get  some  water — quick ! — Look  at  that,  you  low-lived 
bully,"  he  continued,  addressing  Green.  "Do  you 
see  what  you've  done?"  And  as  George  spoke  he 
seized  the  terrified  boy  by  the  collar,  and  shook  him 
with  the  energy  of  boiling  indignation. 

'  He  wouldn't  give  up,"  howled  Green. 

"Ugh!"  growled  George,  casting  an  anxious  look 
at  the  pallid  face  of  Tom.  "  If  I  had  nothing  better 
to  do,  I'd  be  glad  to  spend  my  life  in  shaking  you 
up.  That's  it,  Harry,"  he  continued,  as  Quip  with 
a  jug  of  water  bent  over  Tom,  "  throw  it  over  his 
face;  he'll  be  all  right  in  a  moment." 

George  seemed  to  be  quite  absent-minded.  With 
his  eyes  fixed  anxiously  on  Tom,  his  hands  and  arms 
were  working  to  and  fro  with  such  energy  that  it  was 
impossible  to  say  where  Green's  head  was  at  any 
given  moment. 

He  made  no  pause  even,  when,  a  second  later, 
Tom's  face  twitched. 

"Hurrah!  he's  comin'  to!"  cried  Willie Ruthers, 
who  had  just  thrown  open  Tom's  collar. 


72  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

Willie  was  right.  Tom  opened  his  eyes;  then  with 
an  effort  raised  himself  on  his  arm.  He  gazed  about 
him  in  a  dazed  manner,  till  his  eyes  fixed  upon  the 
tear-stained  face  of  Harry  Quip.  He  brightened  at 
once,  put  his  hand  in  his  pocket,  and  said: — 

'  Here,  Harry,  take  some  candy. "  And  Tom  arose, 
feeble  but  smiling. 

'Green,"  said  George,  "before  I  let  you  go,  you 
must  beg  this  boy's  pardon." 

"I'll  not." 

'  You  wont — eh  ?"  and  George  annotated  this  re- 
mark with  a  shake. 

'Ow!  stop!     Yes!  I  beg  your  pardon." 

'Much  obliged,"  said  Tom  seriously. 

'Now,"  continued  George,  "I  want  you  to  prom- 
ise me  not  to  interfere  with  smaller  boys.  Do  you 
hear?  We  want  no  bullies  this  year." 

"Oh  yes!"  cried  Green,  now  shaken  into  a  ball. 
'  I  promise,  upon  my  word.  Oh,  George,  please  let 
me  go." 

George  acceded  to  this  earnest  request,  and  Green 
hastened  away  to  rejoin  his  friends,  who,  at  the  first 
approach  of  danger,  had  fled. 

Morally  speaking,  Tom  had  won  the  fight. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  USURPS  MINOR  ORDERS  WITH  STARTLING 

RESUL  TS. 

ONE  Sunday  morning  toward  the  end  of  Septem- 
ber,  the    president    preached  a  sermon  to  the 
students,  taking  for  his   subject  our  Lord's  casting 
out  of  the  devils.     He  proceeded  to  show  how 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  73 

Church  has  established  certain  forms  of  prayer,  called 
exorcism,  for  the  casting  out  of  unclean  spirits;  and 
he  dwelt  at  some  length  on  the  pitiable  condition  of 
a  soul  possessed  by  the  evil  one. 

Then,  turning  to  the  allegorical  side  of  the  sub- 
ject, he  declared  that  perhaps  there  were  in  that  very 
students'  chapel  some  who  were  in  the  toils  of  Satan ; 
some  who  were  profane,  impure,  unjust;  some  who 
had  blackened  their  souls  with  mortal  sin,  and  driven 
out  the  Holy  Spirit  from  His  proper  temple. 

So  engaging  was  the  style,  so  impressive  the  man- 
ner of  the  speaker,  that  all  listened  with  eager  atten- 
tion. But  no  one  was  more  interested  than  Tom 
Playfair.  That  young  gentleman,  it  must  be  con- 
fessed, had  scarcely  ever  heard  a  sermon  during  the 
decade  of  years  that  summed  up  his  life.  What  lit- 
tle knowledge  he  had  of  his  religion  had  been  gleaned 
from  an  occasional  flash  of  attention  to  his  aunt's  ex- 
hortations. Hence  it  is  not  surprising  that  Tom  did 
not  fully  take  in  the  speaker's  remarks;  it  is  not 
surprising  that  he  confounded  fact  with  fancy,  the 
literal  with  the  figurative. 

Mass  over,  Tom  remained  in  the  chapel,  and  pro- 
ceeded to  make  a  careful  examination  of  all  the 
prayer-books  scattered  about  on  the  benches.  At 
length  the  gratified  expression  which  came  upon  his 
countenance  evinced  that  he  had  found  what  he  de- 
sired. Gravely  seating  himself,  he  read  and  pon- 
dered, pondered  and  read.  Finally  seeming  to  be 
satisfied  with  his  researches,  he  closed  the  book  and 
hurried  away  to  the  yard,  where  he  at  once  sought 
out  his  three  confidants,  Harry,  Willie,  and  Joe. 

"  I  say,"  began  Tom,  "  take  some  candy."  Candy 
was  Tom's  pipe  of  peace.  All  accepted  the  peace- 


74  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

offering,   whereupon  the  young  chief  unfolded  his 
ideas  in  the  following  conversation: — 

'I  say,  did  you  fellows  mind  what  the  president 
said  at  Mass?" 

"Yes;  what  about  it?"  inquired  Harry. 

'Why,  just  this, — one  of  the  boys  in  this  yard  is 
possessed  by  the  devil." 

'What!"  exclaimed  all  in  a  breath. 

'That  is  just  what,"  returned  Tom,  in  a  decided 
manner.  '  Didn't  he  say  that  any  one  who  curses 
and  acts  vile  is  possessed  by  the  devil  ?" 

"That's  so,"  assented  Willie. 

"  Now,  boys,  I  ask  you — what  fellow  in  the  yard 
is  it  who  curses  and  talks  vile?" 

"John  Green,"  put  in  Harry. 

"John  Green,"  echoed  Willie. 

"Just  so,"  added  Joe. 

"Well,  now,"  resumed  Tom,  "'I've  been  looking 
this  thing  up,  and  I  guess  we  must — what's  that 
word  the  President  used  ?" 

"Exercise,"  suggested  Willie. 

"7'hat's  just  it;  we  must  exercise  him." 

"  Chase  him  round  the  yard  or  something  of  that 
sort,"  said  Joe,  imparting  to  his  voice  a  tone  half  of 
suggestion,  and  half  of  inquiry. 

Tom  rewarded  this  remark  with  a  glance  which 
was  almost  severe. 

"Joe,"  he  said,  reproachfully,  "exercise  is  some- 
thing religious,  and  you  oughtn't  to  talk  that  way. 
To  exercise  means  to  drive  the  devil  out,  and  that's 
what  we're  going  to  do  for  Green." 

"  But  seems  to  me,"  observed  Harry,  the  best  theo- 
logian of  these  youths,  "  we  ought  to  get  a  priest  to 
do  it," 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  75 

"I've  thought  of  that,  too,"  answered  Tom,  with 
an  impressiveness  which  carried  confidence.  '  But 
you  see  here's  the  trouble;  no  fellow  likes  to  give 
another  fellow  away.  And  if  we  told  a  priest,  we'd 
have  to  say  all  the  bad  things  we  know  about  Green. 
Anyhow,  we  can  try  our  hands  first,  and  if  our  pray- 
ing don't  do  good,  we  can  get  a  priest  at  it." 

Strangely  enough,  these  three  boys  began  to  look 
upon  Tom's  proposition  in  a  serious  light.  Our  hero 
had  a  boyish  eloquence  which  persuaded  where  it  did 
not  prove.  Had  any  other  student  of  the  yard  made 
this  proposal,  Harry  Quip  would  have  laughed  him 
into  silence;  but  Tom  was  a  born  leader. 

"  Well,  how  are  we  to  go  about  it  ?"  inquired  Willie. 

"I'll  tell  you,"  answered  Tom.  'Fasting  and 
prayers  is  what  does  it." 

"Fasting?"  echoed  Joe. 

"Yes;  wre  must  go  without  supper  to-night." 

The  members  of  the  little  band  looked  at  each 
other  doubtfully. 

"It's  got  to  be  done,"  said  Tom,  with  decision. 
"  I  read  about  it  in  a  prayer-book." 

"  And  what  else  ?"  asked  Harry. 

"Then  we've  got  to  pray  over  him." 

The  prospect  of  these  duties  was  inducing  a  feeling 
of  awe  upon  all. 

"What  will  we  say,  Tom?"  whispered  Willie. 

"  That's  just  the  trouble;  it's  got  to  be  in  Latin, 
'cause  I  saw  in  the  prayer-book  a  lot  of  Latin  prayers 
they  use  for  exercising." 

"Whew!"  exclaimed  Harry.  "We  can't  get  over 
that." 

"  Yes,  we  can, "  said  the  ever-ready  Tom.  "  There's 
a  lot  of  Latin  hymns  at  the  encl  of  my  prayer-book, 


7  6  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

and  I'll  practise  saying  them  during  the  day.  Then, 
when  I  read  them  out  loud,  all  you  fellows  need  do 
is  to  answer,  ^  Amen. ' 

"We  can  do  that  easy  enough,"  assented  Harry. 
"  But  when  is  all  this  to  come  off?" 

"That's  another  thing  I've  settled,"  Tom  made 
answer.  "At  twelve  o'clock  to-night.  You  needn't 
look  so  scared.  I'll  keep  awake  till  twelve,  and 
then  I'll  call  you  fellows.  You  see,  we  must  pray 
over  him;  and  when  he  is  lying  in  bed,  we  can  do  it 
as  easy  as  not.  I'll  stand  at  his  head  reading  the 
verses,  and  you  three  be  ready  to  grab  him,  if  he 
wakes,  so  as  to  make  him  behave  while  he's  getting 
exercised." 

"  Oh,  Tom !"  suddenly  exclaimed  the  ingenious  Joe. 
"  How  can  you  read  at  twelve  o'clock  without  a 
light?" 

For  the  first  time  during  the  proceedings  Tom  was 
nonplussed.  The  question  of  illumination  had  not 
occurred  to  him. 

"  Gracious!  I  didn't  think  of  that.  Let's  all  try 
and  get  up  some  scheme." 

"Halloa!  I'll  tell  you  what!"  cried  Harry  tri- 
umphantly, breaking  in  upon  the  silence  which  had 
ensued:  "we  can  get  some  candlesticks  out  of  the 
sacristy." 

"You're  a  jewel,  Harry!"  exclaimed  Tom,  enthusi- 
astically. "That'll  make  it  more  religious-like, 
still." 

"What's  the  matter  with  a  few  surplices?"  asked 
Willie. 

"I  don't  know,"  mused  Tom.  'Do  you  think  it 
would  make  the  thing  more  piouser?" 

"Qf  course,"  rejoined  Harry, 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  77 

"Then  we'll  get  surplices,  too;  and,  Harry,  I'll 
leave  all  that  to  you,  because  you  know  more  about 
the  sacristy  than  I  do.  Get  'em  at  last  recess  to- 
night. Hide  the  candlesticks  behind  the  door  going 
up  to  the  dormitory.  Each  boy  can  keep  his  surplice 
under  his  pillow.  Now,  don't  speak  about  this  affair, 
and  we'll  put  it  through  in  style." 

At  supper  that  evening  four  little  boys  took  noth- 
ing; and  before  retiring  Harry  procured  candles  and 
surplices,  and  bestowed  them  according  to  direc- 
tions. 

As  Tom  slipped  into  bed  he  felt  confident  of  suc- 
cess. Indeed,  he  found  less  difficulty  in  keeping 
awake  than  might  have  been  expected.  With  his 
eyes  fixed  on  the  presiding  prefect,  Mr.  Middleton, 
he  watched  anxiously  to  see  him  retire.  But  Mr. 
Middleton  sat  at  his  desk,  calmly  reading,  till  a  cold 
perspiration  came  upon  Tom,  who  feared  the  prefect 
might  stay  up  all  night.  Finally,  to  Tom's  great 
relief,  the  prefect  arose  and  set  about  preparing  for 
bed;  but  before  retiring  he  knelt  beside  his  bed,  and 
kept  this  position  for  an  interminably  long  time,  as 
it  seemed  to  Tom. 

"Pshaw,"  growled  the  impatient  sentinel;  'this 
isn't  the  time  to  pray.  He  ought  to  do  that  when 
the  boys  are  awake  instead  of  watching  'em." 

At  length  Mr.  Middleton  did  go  to  bed,  and  there 
was  silence  for  an  hour.  Then  arose  Tom,  donned 
his  garments,  and,  tiptoeing  from  bed  to  bed,  aroused 
his  fellow-conspirators. 

All  dressed,  they  stole  noiselessly  out  of  the 
dormitory.  Presently  a  solemn  procession  enters. 
Tom,  surpliced,  and  with  prayer-book,  at  the  head, 
followed  by  his  three  friends,  each  bearing  a  lighted 


78  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

candle.  Solemn  and  silent  they  range  themselves 
round  the  bed  of  the  unconscious  victim. 

"Don't  touch  him,"  whispered  Tom,  "unless  he 
wakes.  But  if  he  does,  grab  him,  and  hold  him 
down  till  I'm  done  expelling  the  devil  out." 

"What  if  he  shouts?"  asked  Joe. 

"He  wont  shout,"  said  Harry;  "I'll  see  that  he's 
quiet." 

"  Very  well, "  said  Tom.  "  Now,  are  you  all  ready  ?" 

General  assent. 

"All  right;  here  goes: 

4  Dies  ine,  dies  ilia, 
Solvet  sseclum  in  favilla, 
Teste  David  cum  Sibylla. 


i  n 


Here  Tom  looked  up  from  his  book.  General 
silence. 

"Answer,  will  you — it's  the  end  of  the  verse." 

"A — men,"  came  the  solemn  answer.  The  sleep- 
ing innocent  did  not  appear  to  be  affected  in  the 
least. 

Tom  went  on : 

1 '  '  Quantus  tremor  est  futurus, 
Quando  Judex  est  venturus, 
Cuncta  stricte  discussurus.' " 

"Amen"  was  the  prompt  response.  Green  moved 
uneasily,  and  gave  a  groan. 

"Go  on,  Tom,  it's  fetching  him,"  observed  Harry 
gravely. 

"Oh!"  cried  Joe,  "maybe  it's  the  devil  coming 
out.  Do  you  think  he'll  hurt  us?" 

"Not  if  we  behave  properly,"  said  Tom,  though 
he  paled  a  little.  "Come  on,  now.  Here's  one 
that's  got  a  sound  to  it: 


TOM  PLA  YFA1R.  79 

'  Tuba  mirum  spargens  sonum 
Per  sepulchra  regionum 
Coget  omnes  ante  thronum.' ' 

"Amen." 

Green  moved  and  groaned  again. 

"Grab  him  boys;  he's  waking!"  exclaimed  Tom. 

As  Green  opened  his  eyes  to  find  himself  in  the 
clutches  of  four  white-robed  figures,  his  terror  knew 
no  bounds.  "What's  the  matter?"  he  gasped.  "Am 
I  dead  ?" 

"No;  but  you  will  be,"  answered  Tom,  "if  you 
don't  lie  still.  Keep  quiet,  you  goose,  while  you 
are  being  exercised." 

Green's  terror,  now  that  he  came  to  appreciate  the 
situation,  fast  gave  way  to  rage.  He  attempted  to 
cry  out,  whereupon  Harry  Quip  promptly  stuffed  a 
towel  into  his  mouth.  Green  was  a  strong  lad;  and 
he  made  violent  struggles  to  escape  from  the  grasp 
of  his  persecutors.  But  his  efforts  seemed  to  be 
unavailing. 

Suddenly  there  was  a  great  crash.  The  bed  had 
come  to  pieces.  Panic  stricken,  Joe,  Harry,  and 
Willie  rushed  from  the  dormitory.  Quick  as  thought, 
Tom  extinguished  the  lighted  candles,  which  the 
deserters  had  left  on  the  field,  and  with  a  skip  and  a 
bound  tucked  himself  snugly  in  his  bed. 

Nor  was  he  too  quick.  Mr.  Middleton,  oncoming 
to  the  scene  of  action,  found  Green  standing  beside 
his  dismantled  bed,  looking  the  embodiment  of  guilt. 

"  Take  that  vacant  bed  over  there,  Green,  and  we'll 
settle  this  matter  in  the  morning." 

But,  sir — "    remonstrated  the  innocent  victim — 
but,  sir — " 

"That'll  do  now;  go  to  bed." 


« 

u 


8o  TOM  PL  A  YFA1R. 

And  Mr.  Middleton,  glancing  about  the  dormitory, 
took  down  the  names  of  the  absentees. 

Next  morning  Tom  confessed  the  whole  affair, 
taking  all  the  blame  upon  his  own  shoulders.  Mr. 
Middleton  was  secretly  amused  at  Tom's  ideas  of 
diabolical  possession;  none  the  less,  he  kept  that 
young  gentleman  very  busy  for  some  time  commit- 
ting lines  to  memory;  and  with  this  exercise  termi- 
nated Tom's  career  as  an  exorcist. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  GETS  INTO  MANY  DIFFICULTIES,  AND 
HOLDS  AN  ASTONISHING  INTERVIEW  WITH  MR. 
MIDDLETON. 

TOM'S  first  five  or  six  weeks  at  St.  Maure's,  like 
the  course  of  true  love  in  fable  and  history,  did 
not  run  smooth.  His  troubles,  some  of  which  we 
have  narrated,  were  not  confined  to  the  yard  alone. 
They  followed  him  into  the  class-room. 

Tom  thought,  like  many  other  students,  that  he 
would  pick  up  the  class  matter  by  easy  studying. 
But  on  this  point  his  professor  did  not  agree  with 
him. 

It  must  be  confessed,  too,  that  Tom  was  at  times 
overbold  in  his  manner  of  deporting  himself  in  the 
class-room. 

On  one  occasion,  Mr.  Middleton  put  himself  to 
much  trouble  to  explain  along  and  complicated  sum 
in  fractions.  He  went  over  the  problem  step  by  step 
in  such  wise  that  no  one  not  absolutely  feather- 
brained could  fail  of  following  the  process.  Mr. 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  8 1 

Middleton  was  the  soul  of  earnestness  in  teaching; 
and  so  at  the  end  of  half  an  hour's  explanation  he  was 
covered  with  chalk,  while  beads  of  perspiration — it 
was  by  no  means  a  warm  day — stood  out  upon  his 
brow. 

"  Now,  boys,"  he  said,  turning  full  upon  the  class, 
"do  you  understand  it  all?"  The  head  of  each  and 
every  boy  nodded  assent.  Suddenly  a  hand  went  up. 
It  was  Tom's. 

"Well,  Playfair?" 

"Yes,  sir,"  said  Tom  soberly. 

Mr.  Middleton  was  puzzled. 

"What  do  you  mean,  Playfair?" 

"I  understand  it,  sir." 

Mr.  Middleton  smiled;  there  was  a  slight  titter 
among  the  more  thoughtless  boys;  yet  somehow  Tom 
felt  that  he  was  out  of  order;  he  was  sensible  in  a 
dim  way  that  Mr.  Middleton's  smile  carried  a  reproof 
with  it.  But  the  words  had  been  spoken,  and  were 
beyond  recall. 

A  day  or  two  later,  Mr.  Middleton  was  hearing 
recitations.  Alexander  Jones  was  called  upon  to 
answer  some  questions  on  the  geography  of  Vermont. 

"What  is  the  nature  of  the  land,  Jones?"  asked 
Mr.  Middleton  in  a  kindly  manner. 

Jones  arose,  one  quivering  bundle  of  nerves,  his 
eyebrows  twitching,  his  knees  bending  under  him,  his 
lips  quivering,  and  his  fingers  in  a  fury  of  motion. 
He  grew  intensely  pale  and  gave  several  gasps. 

Mr.  Middleton,  with  a  few  encouraging  words, 
repeated  the  question. 

"It's  a  con-continent,"  gasped  Jones. 

"I'm  afraid  you  didn't  catch  my  question,"  said 

Mr.  Middleton.     "Now  don't  be  afraid.      I'm  sure 
6 


82  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

you  know  it.     Listen ;  what  is  the  nature  of  the  land  ? 
Is  it  rocky,  or  mountainous,  or  sandy,  or  what? 

Poor  Jones  gasped  again,  but  gave  no  answer. 
Here  Tom  (who  knew  nothing  about  the  lesson)  came 
bravely  to  the  rescue.  He  was  seated  just  behind 
Jones. 

'It's  mountainous,"  he  whispered. 
'It's  m — mountainous,"  Jones  stammered. 
'Yes,"  said  Mr.  Middleton,  as  if  expecting  more. 
"Go   on,"  growled    Tom,    "and    tell    him    it's 
rocky." 

'It's  rocky,"  repeated  Jones. 
But  even  this  answer  did  not  seem  to  satisfy  Mr. 
Middleton. 

'Tell  him  it's  sandy,"  continued  the  prompter. 
"It's— it's  sandy." 

But  Mr.  Middleton,  for  some  unknown  reason, 
failed  to  come  to  the  rescue  of  the  hapless  boy.  He 
still  waited. 

'  Hang  it,"  growled  Tom,  unwittingly  speaking  so 
loud  as  to  be  heard  by  the  professor  and  the  entire 
class,  "  tell  him  it's  very  mountainous,  very  rocky, 
and  very  sandy." 

"  It's  very  mountainous,  very  rocky,  and  very 
sandy,"  blurted  forth  Jones,  and  as  a  burst  of  laughter 
saluted  his  remark  he  sank  back  into  his  seat  misera- 
bly conscious  that  he  had  cut  a  very  ridiculous  figure. 
"Playfair,  after  class,"  said  Mr.  Middleton  sen- 
tentiously. 

"I  didn't  do  anything,"  exclaimed  Tom  with  vir- 
tuous indignation. 

But  the  professor  very  wisely  ignored  this  dis- 
claimer, and  continued  the  recitation. 

In  consequence,  then,  of  bad  conduct  and  faulty 


TOM  PLAYFA1R.  83 

recitations,  it  was  not  an  uncommon  sight  after  class 
to  see  our  little  friend,  book  in  hand,  patrolling  the 
yard,  endeavoring  to  make  up  at  the  eleventh  hour 
what  he  had  failed  in  at  the  first.  And  so,  naturally 
enough,  Tom  came  gradually  to  imbibe  a  disgust  for 
study  and  class-work,  which  in  the  course  of  three 
or  four  weeks  culminated  in  an  almost  entire  neglect 
of  studies.  Tom  felt  in  his  heart  that  he  was  acting 
wrong;  but  he  was  a  thoughtless  boy,  and  his  sense 
of  responsibility  was  but  poorly  developed.  Yet  he 
realized  with  growing  unhappiness  that,  should  he 
continue  in  his  present  courses,  he  would  soon  be  at 
the  foot  of  the  class. 

Mr.  Middleton,  indeed,  had  no  trouble  in  divining 
the  state  of  Tom's  mind;  but  he  resolved  to  wait  till 
some  favorable  opportunity  should  present  itself  for 
turning  the  pupil  from  his  ill-chosen  path.  The  op- 
portunity soon  came.  An  incident  in  the  yard  brought 
it  about. 

It  was  a  gloomy  morning  in  early  autumn.  Tom 
was  straggling  along  moodily  from  the  refectory 
towards  the  yard,  when  he  perceived  lying  upon  the 
ground  two  ready-made  cigarettes,  dropped,  probably, 
by  one  of  the  senior  students  in  the  rush  and  shock 
of  a  game  of  foot-ball.  Quickly  picking  them  up, 
he  hurried  to  his  yard  and  sought  Harry  Quip.  Tom 
was  rather  out  of  spirits  on  this  morning — he  was 
totally  unprepared  in  lessons,  and  he  looked  forward 
with  unpleasant  feelings  to  the  day's  recitations. 
There  was  unhappiness  awaiting  him  in  the  line  of 
duty.  He  would  seek  happiness  in  the  line  of 
mischief. 

He  found  Harry  without  difficulty,  and  drew  him 
aside. 


84  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"Look  here,  Harry,"  and  Tom  produced  the  two 
cigarettes,  "what  do  you  say  to  a  smoke?" 

'  Halloa !  what's  up  now  ?"  Harry  exclaimed.  "  On 
the  road  here  you  told  me  you  didn't  care  about 
smoking,  and  I  liked  what  you  said  first-rate." 

"Yes;  but  just  for  fun,"  pleaded  Tom. 

Harry  placed  his  hand  affectionately  on  Tom's 
shoulder,  and  with  his  honest  face  and  eyes  beaming 
earnestness,  said: — 

'Tom,  old  fellow,  I'm  afraid  you're  going  wrong 
— just  a  little  bit,  you  know.  Of  course  there's 
nothing  bad  about  smoking — but — but — well,  I  aint 
no  philosopher,  but  it's  so  anyhow." 

This  speech  was  incoherent  enough.  Harry  had 
endeavored  to  tell  the  truth  and  at  the  same  time 
spare  the  feelings  of  his  "  partner. "  But  honest  words 
are  more  than  grammar  and  rhetoric;  and  long,  long 
after,  the  sympathetic  face  and  kindly  voice  of  Harry 
haunted  Tom,  and  helped  him  in  the  path  of  duty. 

But  at  the  moment  he  was  in  no  mood  to  be  softened. 
He  added  in  extenuation: — 

'You  see,  Harry,  I've  got  to  do  something  or  I'll 
die.  Come  on  and  take  a  few  puffs." 

"Nixie,"  responded  Harry,  shaking  his  head  and 
grinning,  "and  I  tell  you  what,  Tom,  don't  you  get 
in  with  the  smokers  on  the  sly.  It  doesn't  pay." 

Seeing  Harry's  determination  to  behave  well,  Tom 
respected  it;  and  forthwith  sought  in  his  stead  an 
old  and  tried  smoker,  John  Pitch. 

'  You're  just  the  fellow  I  wanted  to  see !"  exclaimed 
John  Pitch  enthusiastically,  when  Tom  had  made  his 
proposition.  'You  see  the  old  church-building? 
Come  on  over  to  that  corner  between  the  walls  of  the 
hand-ball  alley.  It's  a  safe  place  now.  Mr.  Middle- 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  85 

ton  is  taking  his  breakfast,  and  Mr.  Phelan  has  to 
stay  in  the  playroom — and  I've  got  any  amount  of 
matches." 

"  Now,"  resumed  Johnny  a  few  seconds  later,  when 
they  had  nestled  close  together  in  the  corner,  "  unless 
you  want  to  get  caught,  don't  blow  your  smoke  out 
ahead  of  you,  so's  it  can  be  seen.  Every  time  you 
take  a  puff,  turn  your  head  round  this  way,  and  blow 
it  here  right  through  this  chink  into  the  old  church. 
It's  a  great  trick;  I  found  it  out  myself." 

Tom  gave  audible  approbation  to  this  advice,  and 
proceeded  to  carry  it  out  to  the  letter;  and  for  some 
minutes  the  two  smoked  in  silence. 

"Isn't  it  immense?"  John  at  length  inquired. 

"  Isn't  it  though  ?"  answered  Tom,  repressing  a 
cough. 

"Say,"  resumed  John,  a  moment  later,  "can  you 
make  the  smoke  come  out  of  your  nose?" 

"Oh!  that's  nothing,"  responded  Tom;  and  he 
executed  the  required  feat. 

"You  can't  inhale — can  you?"  pursued  John. 

"Of  course  I  can,  if  I  want  to;  but  I  don't  care 
much  about  it." 

"Well,  I'll  tell  you  what  you  can't  do;  you  can't 
talk  with  smoke  inside  of  you  and  then  blow  it  out 
after  you're  through  talking." 

"Neither  can  you." 

"I'll  bet  lean." 

"Let's  see  you  do  it,  then!"  exclaimed  Tom  with 
increasing  animation. 

In  answer  to  this,  John  gravely  inhaled  a  mouth- 
ful of  smoke;  then  said: — 

"See!  that's  the  way  to  do  the  thing,"  and  blew 
it  forth. 


86  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"Gracious,  out  that's  immense.  I  want  to  learn 
that  trick  too;  let's  see  you  do  it  again." 

Both  were  now  absorbed — Tom,  cigarette  in  hand, 
intently  eyeing  John;  and  John,  cigarette  in  mouth, 
determined  to  heighten  his  disciple's  admiration. 

John  now  took  two  or  three  vigorous  puffs,  then 
inhaled  the  triple  instalment. 

Just  at  this  most  interesting  juncture,  Tom's  quick 
ear  caught  the  sound  of  approaching  footsteps. 

'*  Caz>e,  look  out,"  he  whispered,  and  as  he  spoke 
he  dropped  his  cigarette  by  his  side  and  crushed  it 
under  his  foot. 

But  John  was  not  so  quick,  his  lungs  were  still 
filled  with  smoke,  and  his  cigarette  was  still  in  his 
hand,  as  Mr.  Middleton,  the  terror  of  smokers,  turned 
the  corner.  But  the  young  rogue  was  not  without 
resource;  he  and  his  companion,  as  has  been  said, 
were  nestled  together,  and  the  open  pocket  in  Tom's 
sailor-jacket  was  convenient  to  the  hand  in  which 
John  was  holding  the  cigarette.  There  was  no  re- 
sisting the  temptation.  Deftly,  quietly,  he  dropped 
the  burning  cigarette  into  the  yawning  pocket.  Un- 
conscious of  this,  Tom,  with  his  eyes  full  upon  Mr. 
Middleton,  was  inwardly  congratulating  himself  upon 
his  lucky  escape.  Not  so  John.  Although  free  of 
the  tell-tale  cigarette,  it  could  hardly  be  said  that  he 
was  in  a  happy  frame  of  mind.  The  smoke  within 
him  imperatively  demanded  an  outlet;  and  there 
stood  Mr.  Middleton,  confronting  him  with  the  evi- 
dent intention  of  opening  a  conversation. 

"Good  morning,  boys,"  the  prefect  began. 

"Good  morning,  Mr.  Middleton,"  answered  Tom, 
Who,  aware  of  John's  predicament,  was  resolved  to 
do  the  talking  for  both. 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  87 

"There's  a  strange  smell  about  here,"  continued 
the  prefect,  with  a  peculiar  smiie. 

"Yes,  sir,  there  is,"  returned  Tom  gravely.  'I 
wonder  if  there  arn't  some  skunks  in  this  old  build- 
ing. Some  of  the  old  fellows  says  there  are." 

"  I  hardly  think  it  a  skunk.  But  what's  the  mat- 
ter with  you,  Johnny?  are  you  ill?" 

The  question  was  pertinent.  John  was  now  in  a 
partial  state  of  suffocation,  his  eyes  were  bulging 
out  of  his  head,  his  mouth  was  closed  tight,  and  his 
cheeks  were  puffed  out  as  though  he  were  a  cornet- 
player  executing  a  high  and  difficult  note. 

It  is  superfluous  to  add,  then,  that  John  returned 
no  answer.  Tom  made  an  awkward  attempt  to  divert 
Mr.  Middleton's  attention.  A  number  of  boys  had 
just  issued  from  the  play-room;  Tom  made  the  most 
of  it. 

"Oh!  Mr.  Middleton,  what's  that  crowd  of  boys 
outside  the  play-room  up  to?  Looks  as  if  there's 
going  to  be  a  fight  or  something." 

"Johnny,  you  must  tell  me  what  ails  you;"  and 
Mr.  Middleton,  regardless  of  Tom's  eager  remark, 
fixed  his  penetrating  eyes  on  John. 

A  moment  of  painful  silence  followed. 

One  moment  and  the  victim  of  asphyxiation  could 
hold  in  no  longer — a  gasp  and  a  choke,  and  out  came 
the  smoke. 

"Dear  me!  you  appear  to  be  on  fire  inside," 
remarked  the  prefect. 

"  I  guess  you're  pretty  sick,  Johnny,"  put  in  Tom, 
becoming  bolder  under  stress  of  desperation.    ;<  Any- 
how  I   hope    it  aint   catching.     I've   been  sitting 
alongside  of — " 

He  finished  this  interesting  address  with  a  shriek 


88  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

of  pain,  as  he  suddenly  jumped  to  his  feet  and  clapped 
both  hands  to  his  bosom — smoke  was  streaming  from 
his  pocket. 

'It  looks  as  if  it  was  catching,"  remarked  Mr. 
Middleton.  "You  are  on  fire  outside." 

With  some  rubbing  and  slapping — accompanied 
by  a  round  of  hopping  and  wriggling — Tom  saved 
his  jacket  pocket  from  utter  destruction;  then  as  he 
grew  calmer  he  threw  a  reproachful  eye  upon  John. 

With  a  smile  the  prefect  walked  away,  leaving 
them  to  conjecture  the  nature  and  extent  of  their 
punishment. 

During  six  o'clock  studies  that  evening,  Tom  was 
summoned  to  the  room  of  Mr.  Middleton. 

'Well,  Tom,"  began  the  prefect  when  the  culprit 
had  presented  himself,  "  how  are  you  getting  on  ?" 

Tom  became  lost  in  the  contemplation  of  his  feet. 
'Take  a  seat,"  continued  Mr.  Middleton,  indicat- 
ing a  chair.  '  I  want  to  have  a  talk  with  you.  Now, 
my  boy, "he  resumed  when  Tom  had  seated  himself, 
''  I  have  had  a  good  chance  to  watch  you  in  class  and 
in  the  yard,  for  some  weeks,  and  I  have  come  to  the 
conclusion  that  you  are  a  very  stubborn  boy.  Isn't 
that  so  ?" 

"Yes,  sir,"  said  Tom  mildly. 

'You  don't  seem  to  mind  anything  I  tell  you. 
Day  after  day,  it's  the  same  old  story,  bad  lessons, 
careless  exercises,  and  then  when  I  call  you  to  ac- 
count, your  manner  shows  that  you  have  little  or  no 
intention  of  doing  better.  Do  you  deny  that?" 

'No,  sir,"  answered  Tom,  beginning  to  feel  very 
uncomfortable  and  very  wicked. 

"  And  don't  you  think  that  a  stubborn  disposition 
is  a  bad  thing  for  a  little  boy  ?" 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  89 

"Yes,  sir." 

"Well,  I  don't,"  said  Mr.  Middleton. 

'You  don't!"  exclaimed  Tom  in  surprise. 

:'  Not  entirely.  Columbus,  Washington,  St.  Francis 
Xavier  were  in  a  sense  stubborn  men.  Indeed,  I  think 
all  truly  great  men  must  have  a  fair  share  of  stub- 
bornness in  their  composition. 

Tom's  face  betrayed  no  less  astonishment  than 
interest. 

'Columbus,"  continued  Mr.  Middleton,  "by  stub- 
bornly clinging  to  one  idea  in  spite  of  rebuffs  and 
disappointment,  discovered  a  new  world.  Washing- 
ton in  the  face  of  most  disheartening  difficulties — 
difficulties  from  friends  and  from  foes — held  to  his 
purpose,  and  created  a  nation.  If  Columbus  had  not 
been  stubborn  he  would  have  given  in;  and  America 
might  have  been  undiscovered  for  years  and  years 
after  his  death ;  if  Washington  had  been  less  stub- 
born, perhaps  our  country  might  have  never  achieved 
her  freedom.  Did  you  ever  read  the  life  of  St. 
Francis  Xavier?" 

'  I  don't  read  pious  books  very  often,  sir." 

'Well,  he  was  just  such  another  man — stubborn 
as  could  be.  When  he  was  a  young  student  nothing 
would  satisfy  him  but  to  become  a  great  philosopher. 
So  he  studied  away,  week  after  week,  year  after  year, 
till  he  became  one  of  the  learned  doctors  of  his  age. 
Then  when  St.  Ignatius  converted  him,  he  became 
just  as  stubborn  in  converting  souls  .to  God,  as  he 
had  before  been  stubborn  in  acquiring  philosophy. 
Nothing  could  divert  him  from  his  new  work.  Labor, 
pain,  hunger,  abandonment  of  home  and  friends — all 
were  bravely  endured  to  this  end ;  and  Francis  Xavier 
became  the  great  apostle  of  modern  times." 


90  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

"Well,  it  seems  to  me,  Mr.  Middleton,  that  if  stub- 
bornness were  a  good  thing,  it  wouldn't  make  a  boy 
act  wrong." 

"Oh,  it  may,"  answered  Mr.  Middleton  with  a 
smile,  "  if  it  be  misused.  Isn't  bread  a  good  thing  ?" 

"Yes,  sir." 

"  But  it  wouldn't  be  good  if  you  were  to  pave  the 
streets  with  it.  Stubbornness  is  good  too,  but  only 
when  used  the  right  way.  Stubbornness  is  merely 
the  sign  of  a  strong  will — a  strong  determination. 
If  you  exert  your  stubborn  strength  of  will  to  doing 
what  is  good,  you  are  all  the  better  and  nobler  for 
your  stubbornness.  But  if  you  exert  it  for  a  bad 
purpose,  then  you  are  so  much  the  worse.  And  what 
a  pity  it  is  that  boys  misuse  so  good  a  gift  of  God! 
Why,  my  dear  boy,  I  have  known  not  a  few  college 
students  who  bent  all  their  energies  to  getting  off 
their  lessons  without  being  punished,  and  who  with 
the  same  energy  might  have  acquired  such  an  educa- 
tion as  would  have  reflected  honor  on  themselves. 
And  you  too,  Tom,  must  guard  against  misapplying 
this  energy,  this  determination,  this  perseverance, 
this  stubbornness — you  see  it  has  many  names — to 
wrong  purposes.  It  is  a  gift  to  you  from  God  Him- 
self;  and  you  must  show  your  gratitude  by  using  the 
gift  aright.  Do  you  remember  when  Green  attacked 
you,  how  steadfastly  you  bore  his  blows  till  you 
fainted?" 

"I  guess  I  do." 

'You  were  determined  not  to  give  in.  Now  take 
your  lessons  the  same  way.  Don't  let  trouble,  weari- 
ness, memory-work  scare  you;  just  hold  on  tight  to 
your  lessons.  Never  give  in  or  yield  to  them;  make 
them  yield  to  you.  Then,  indeed,  you  will  see  that 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  91 

your  stubbornness  is  a  gift  of  the  good  God.  By 
the  way,  you  intend  making  your  First  Communion 
this  year,  don't  you?" 

"Yes,  sir;  I'm  awful  anxious  to  make  it.  I'm 
going  on  eleven,  sir," — here  the  boy's  lips  quivered, 
and  he  caught  his  breath — "and — and — well,  when- 
ever I  think  of  Holy  Communion,  I — eh — think  of 
my  mamma,  sir.  She  died  when  I  was  only  seven. 
But  I  remember  how  she  was  always  speaking  to  me 
about  my  making  a  good  First  Communion." 

Whilst  speaking  these  words,  Tom  repeatedly 
shifted  from  one  foot  to  the  other.  This  was  his 
expression  of  strong  emotion.  And  he  had  reason 
to  be  affected.  For,  as  he  spoke,  the  sweet,  pure 
face  of  his  departed  mother  came  back  vividly  to 
his  memory,  and  while  her  deep,  dark,  tender  eyes 
kindled  into  love,  her  lips  moved  in  a  last  prayer 
for  the  weeping  child  whom  she  strained  in  a  dying 
clasp  to  her  bosom;  moved  in  a  prayer  that  Mary 
the  Virgin  Mother  might  guide  the  ways  of  her  dar- 
ling son.  Then  the  strain  relaxed,  the  sweet  eyes 
closed,  a  shadow  seemed  to  pass  over  the  pallid  face, 
and,  as  he  covered  the  stilled  features  with  kisses,  he 
knew  that  his  mamma  was  with  God.  Poor  mother- 
less boy! 

Mr.  Middleton  was  touched.  From  Tom's  halting 
words  and  shifting  of  position  he  had  caught  some 
glimpse  of  the  little  lad's  heart. 

"In  general,"  said  the  prefect  quite  gently,  ;<a 
boy  is  a  great  loser  if  his  mamma  dies  before  he 
grows  up.  The  reason  often  is  that  he  forgets.  But 
you  do  not  forget,  Tom." 

"Sometimes  I  do,  Mr.  Middleton;  I've  been  for- 
getting a  heap  more  than  I  ought  to." 


92  TOM   PL  A  YFAIR. 

"Well,  Tom,  I  have  great  confidence  in  you." 

Mr.  Middleton  said  these  words  in  a  tone  so  im- 
pressive, so  earnest,  that  Tom  felt  more  and  more 
humbled. 

"I  haven't  done  anything  to  deserve  it,  sir." 

"  But  you  will  do  much  to  deserve  it,  or  I  am 
sadly  mistaken  in  you.  Now,  I'm  going  to  tell  you 
a  secret,  Tom;  but  mind  you  keep  it  to  yourself. 
Three  weeks  ago,  I  received  a  letter  from  your  father 
in  which  he  asked  me  to  give  him  a  report  of  you." 

Tom's  cheeks  lost  their  color. 

'*  He  said  that  you  had  given  much  trouble  at 
home,  that  you  seemed  to  be  very  thoughtless  even 
for  your  age,  and  that  he  doubted  strongly  about 
your  fitness  to  make  your  First  Communion  this 
year." 

Tom  caught  his  breath. 

"  And  he  added  that,  unless  I  could  assure  him  that 
you  were  giving  perfect  satisfaction,  he  would  defer 
your  First  Communion  till  you  were  twelve." 

The  listener  turned  away  his  face  and  gazed 
through  the  open  window. 

"  I   answered   your   father's   letter  half    an  hour 

ago." 

'O!  I'm  a  goner,  then."     Tom's  expression  was 

really  pathetic. 

'*  Listen  to  what  I've  sent  him. 

DEAR  MR.  PLAYFAIR  : 

In  regard  to  your  son's  conduct,  it  is  too  early  in  the  year  to 
say  anything  definite.  But  from  the  data  already  afforded  me 
by  what  I  have  seen  of  him  in  the  class-room  and  in  the  play- 
ground, I  feel  quite  certain  that  he  will  develop  into  a  thoroughly 
good  and  noble  boy, 

Yours  sincerely  in  Xt., 

FRANCIS  MIDDLETON,  S.  J. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  93 

Tom's  lips  quivered,  and  a  softness  came  into  his 
dark  eyes;  he  made  no  attempt  to  speak.  The  firm, 
noble  head  bowed  low.  He  could  have  fallen  at 
Mr.  Middleton's  feet. 

"Now,  Tom,  I'm  quite  sure  that  I  have  not  been 
deceived  in  you.  Perhaps  I  was  over  harsh  with 
you  at  first — " 

"No,  you  weren't.  Hang  it, "blurted  forth  Tom, 
"  if  you'd  kicked  me  once  or  twice,  I'd  feel  better 


now. ' 


Mr.  Middleton  held  out  his  hand;  Tom  caught  it 
in  a  fervent  grasp. 

"  Now  my  boy,  we  will  forget  the  past.  Take  a 
walk  in  the  yard  for  a  while,  and  think  over  what  I 
have  said.  Then  make  your  resolutions  carefully, 
and  ask  the  blessing  of  the  Sacred  Heart." 

Tom  departed,  carrying  a  new  range  of  ideas  in 
his  little  brain;  up  and  down  the  yard  he  paced, 
buried  in  thought.  The  seed  had  fallen  on  good 
ground.  Finally,  going  to  the  chapel,  he  knelt  for 
a  long  time  before  the  tabernacle  and  prayed  with 
all  the  earnestness  of  his  soul,  that  he  might  turn 
over  a  new  leaf.  Nor  was  his  prayer  unheard;  from 
that  hour  Tom  became  a  more  faithful  student,  a 
more  earnest  Christian. 

It  was  twelve  of  the  night,  when  Harry  Quip  was 
aroused  from  slumber  by  a  hand  which  was  shaking 
him  in  no  gentle  manner. 

On  opening  his  eyes,  he  discerned  by  the  dim  light 
of  the  dormitory  lamp  Tom  Playfair. 

"What's  the  matter,  Tom?" 

"  I  say,  Harry,  isn't  Mr.  Middleton  a  brick  ?" 

"  Oh,  go  to  bed,"  growled  Harry,  turning  over  and 
burying  his  face  in  the  pillow. 


94  TOM  PLAYFAlR. 

Tom  complied  with  this  sensible  advice,  and  lay 
awake  for  full  three  minutes,  building  golden  visions 
of  the  great  day  now  assuredly  near  at  hand. 

Ah !  if  he  only  knew  what  difficulties  were  to  arise, 
and  under  what  tragic  circumstances  he  was  to  make 
his  First  Communion,  I  am  quite  sure  that  he  woulc? 
have  lain  awake  for  at  least  six  minutes. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

IN     WHICH     TOM     CONCLUDES     THAT     VINEGAR     NEVER 

CATCHES    FLIES. 

FOR  the  ensuing  two  or  three  weeks  the  current 
of  events  at  college  flowed  on  with  scarcely  a 
ripple.  Every  day  Tom  seemed  to  gain  new  friends. 
Indeed,  with  the  exception  of  John  Green,  he  had 
not  a  single  enemy  among  his  playmates;  and  even 
Green's  enmity  had  grown  less  demonstrative. 

As  a  fit  preparation  for  his  First  Communion, 
Tom  had  resolved  to  put  himself  at  peace  with  the 
whole  world.  He  now  regretted  that  he  had  made 
a  laughing-stock  of  Green  on  the  occasion  of  their 
first  meeting;  and  he  was  on  the  alert  to  do  some- 
thing towards  closing  the  breach  between  them. 

A  slight  change  in  the  routine  of  school-life  gave 
him  the  desired  opportunity. 

Towards  the  end  of  October,  it  was  found  neces- 
sary to  make  some  repairs  in  the  western  corner  of 
the  small  boys'  dormitory.  In  consequence,  seven- 
teen of  the  students  occupying  beds  in  that  part  were 
assigned  temporary  accommodations  in  the  attic  of 
the  main  building,  a  structure  towering  high  above 
all  its  fellows. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  95 

It  was  Wednesday  afternoon  when  Mr.  Middleton 
announced  the  names  of  those  who  were  to  change 
their  sleeping  quarters.  Tom,  Harry  Quip,  Alex- 
ander Jones,  John  Pitch,  Green,  and  others  with 
whom  our  story  has  not  to  do,  composed  this  privi- 
leged number. 

To  add  a  zest  to  the  privilege,  he  allowed  the 
happy  seventeen  to  explore  their  improved  dormitory 
immediately  after  class,  and  very  quickly  after  class 
the  brick  building  resounded  to  the  tramp  of  multi- 
tudinous feet  scampering  nimbly  up  the  stairs  as 
though  on  a  mission  of  life  and  death. 

"Whoop-la!"  cried  Tom,  as  he  burst  into  the 
great  room,  seamed  and  ribbed  overhead  with  heavy 
beams.  "  It's  like  the  attic  of  a  haunted  house, 
only  bigger — isn't  it,  Green?" 

"It's  an  immense  place  for  fun,"  responded  his 
companion.  "Look  at  all  the  corners  and  hiding- 
places.  We  can  play  'I  spy'  here,  if  we  don't  feel 
sleepy." 

"Yes,"  assented  Tom,  "and  at  night  we  might 
climb  out  on  the  roof  and  count  the  stars.  Did  you 
ever  count  the  stars,  Johnny  ?" 

"Naw;  did  you?" 

"  I  tried  it  one  night  at  home,  when  I  was  lying  in 
bed  and  couldn't  sleep.  I  got  as  far  as  fifty-seven, 
and  then  I  went  off  sound  asleep.  But  there  are 
lots  more  than  fifty-seven." 

"I  guess  there's  over  a  trillion,"  said  Green 
reflectively. 

Both  felt  that  their  remarks  had  fairly  exhausted 
their  astronomical  researches. 

"  Come  on,"  said  Tom,  "  let's  get  out  on  the  roof." 

As  he  spoke,  he  pointed  toward  a  ladder  which  led 


g6  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

up  to  a  cupola,  rising  some  seven  or  eight  feet  above 
the  roof  of  the  building.  This  cupola  gave  access 
to  the  roof  by  means  of  a  small  door,  which  opened 
at  the  side  and  was  secured  from  within  by  a  strong 
bolt. 

Followed  by  Tom,  Green  ran  up  the  ladder,  shot 
back  the  bolt,  and  made  his  way  upon  the  roof. 

"  I'd  like  to  live  on  a  roof,"  said  Tom  tranquilly, 
as  he  walked  over  to  the  eastern  verge,  and  gazed 
down  upon  the  yard  below. 

"Come  back,  you  idiot,"  cried  Green,  in  what  he 
considered  his  most  persuasive  accents,  "you'll  get 
dizzy  and  keel  over." 

"I'll  bet  I  wont,"  answered  Tom.  "Don't  you 
think  I've  ever  been  on  a  roof  before?  This  one 
isn't  steep  like  ours,  but  it's  a  heap  higher.  I  say, 
how'd  you  like  to  stand  on  top  of  that  lightning 
rod?"  and  Tom  motioned  with  his  index  finger 
toward  the  tip  of  a  rod,  which  rose  above  the 
cupola. 

Green  ran  over,  caught  hold  of  the  rod  and  shook 
it. 

"  I  wouldn't  like  it  at  all,  unless  I  wanted  to  break 
my  neck;  it's  loose.  What'll  you  bet  I  can't  pull 
it  down?" 

'It  isn't  ours,  Johnnie." 

"I'd  just  as  soon  pull  it  down  as  not,"  continued 
Green.  Nevertheless,  he  relinquished  his  hold  upon 
it,  and  turned  away. 

Tom  had  occasion  to  remember  this  episode  sub- 
sequently, though  at  the  moment  both  he  and  Green 
dismissed  the  subject  so  lightly. 

Some  seven  or  eight  others  now  found  their  way 
to  the  roof,  and  the  conversation,  made  up  in  great 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  97 

part  of  "ohs"  and  "  ahs, "  had  become  quite  general 
and  very  noisy,  when  Mr.  Middleton  appeared  and 
sternly  ordered  all  down. 

Tom  and  Green  were  the  first  to  descend,  followed 
by  the  others  in  Indian  file.  The  last  to  re-enter 
shut  the  door  behind  him,  but  neglected  to  bolt  it. 
The  omission  passed  unnoticed. 

'  I  say,  Mr.  Middleton,  "'  observed  Tom  solemnly, 
;' I  thought  you  didn't  believe  in  slang." 

''Indeed!  I  wouldn't  advise  people  to  use  it  in 
ordinary." 

'Well,  sir,  you  gave  us  bad  example." 

"How?" 

"You  told  us  to  'come  off  thereof, '  sir." 

And  satisfied  with  his  little  joke,  Tom  was  about 
to  hurry  away,  when  he  was  arrested  by  Mr.  Middle- 
ton's  voice. 

"Well,  sir." 

'You'll  have  to  do  penance  for  that  joke,  Tom. 
I  want  four  or  five  willing  boys  to  bring  over  pil- 
lows and  bedding;  the  workmen  will  attend  to  the 
beds  and  mattresses.  You  might  get  Quip  and 
Donnel  to  help  you." 

"All  right,  sir;  that'll  be  fun."  As  Tom  spoke, 
he  saw  an  eager  look  upon  Green's  face.  "  And  I  say, 
Mr.  Middleton,"  he  added,  "  can't  Johnny  Green  help 
us?  he's  willing." 

"  Of  course,"  was  the  cordial  answer,  accompanied 
by  a  kindly  look  at  Johnny. 

Poor  Green!  there  was  a  real,  wholesome  blush 
upon  his  face  as  he  blurted  forth  some  disjointed 
words  of  thanks. 

'Well,"  commented  Mr.  Middleton  to  himself,  as 
the  lads  went  pattering  down  the  stairs,  u  that  Play- 
7 


TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

fair  has  unconsciously  taught  me  another  lesson.  I 
mustn't  forget  to  notice  the  hard  cases  now  and  then. 
Unless  I'm  mistaken,  Green  will  be  in  a  better  mood 
for  a  week." 

'He's  a  good  fellow,"  Green  observed,  as  they 
were  trotting  across  the  yard. 

"Isn't  he?"  said  Tom. 

;' And  so  are  you,"  added  Green,  growing  very  red 
as  he  spoke. 

Tom  laughed ;  he  had  succeeded.  His  only  enemy 
was  won  over. 

Tom  had  brought  a  diary  from  home  having  made 
a  promise  on  receiving  it  to  write  something  in  it 
every  day.  That  night  at  studies,  he  opened  it  for 
the  first  time,  and  made  this  his  first  entry.  It  hap- 
pened to  be  the  last  also. 

OCT.  3OTH. — Since  coming  to  college  I  have  notised  that  vini- 
ger  never  catches  flys.  To-day  I  am  eleven  years  old.  This 
year  I  am  going  to  make  my  First  Communion.  His  name  is 
Green.  I  don't  believe  there  is  anything  near  a  trillion  stars. 


CHAPTER   X. 

IN  WHICH  TOM   GIVES  GREEN  A   BIT  OF  ADVICE,   WHICH, 
AIDED  BY  A  STORM,    IS  NOT  WITHOUT  ITS  EFFECT. 

ON    the   afternoon   of    the    following   day,    Tom, 
Harry,  and  Alexander  Jones  were  engaged  in 
an  earnest  consultation. 

"I  don't  think  he'd  allow  it,"  said  Harry. 
"What  do  you  think,  Alec?"  asked  Tom. 
'I'd  be  afraid  to  ask,"  responded  Alec. 
'Well,  he  can't  more  than  refuse,  and  I  guess  I 
can  stand  that.     Yes,  fellows,  I'm  going  to  ask." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR,  99 

And  without  further  ado,  Tom  walked  over  towards 
Mr.  Middleton,  who  was  acting  as  umpire  in  a  game 
of  hand-ball  between  Donnel  and  Keenan. 

'Well,  Tom,"  said  the  prefect,  as  he  caught  the 
anxious  eyes  of  our  hero  fixed  upon  him,  "  what  do 
you  want  ?" 

'If  you  please,  sir,  I'd  like  permission  to  take  a 
walk  with  Harry  Quip  and  Alec  Jones." 

"Certainly;  you  are  all  on  the  good  conduct  list. 
Be  back  half  an  hour  before  supper." 

"And,  Mr.  Middleton,  can't  Crazy — that  is,  can't 
Johnny  Green  come  along  with  us?" 

"  He's  not  on  the  conduct  list.  You  know  the 
rule." 

"Yes,  sir;  but  he  hasn't  had  a  chance  to  go  out 
since  the  first  week  of  school." 

"  That's  not  a  sufficient  reason  for  his  going  out 


now.' 


"  But,  Mr.  Middleton,  yesterday  you  told  me  you'd 
make  it  all  right  with  me  for  carrying  over  the  bed- 
clothes and  things.  Let  Green  come  along,  and  I 
can't  ask  for  anything  I'd  like  more.  You  know, 
sir,  we  haven't  been  friends  up  to  yesterday."  And 
Tom  gazed  at  the  prefect  wistfully. 

"Tom,"  answered  Mr.  Middleton,  after  a  few 
moments  of  consideration,  "please  tell  Green  that 
I'm  very  glad  to  have  an  excuse  for  letting  him  out, 
and  that  I  hope  he'll  have  all  the  privileges  of  the 
conduct  list  next  month." 

"Thanks,  Mr.  Middleton;  I  know  every  word  you 
said  just  then  by  heart,  and  I'll  tell  it  to  him  exactly 
as  you  said  it."  And  touching  his  cap  Tom  hurried 
away. 

;' Say,  Green,  wont  you  take  some  candy?"  he  in- 


i*      ' 

v    .- 

I 


loo  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

quired  of  that  young  gentleman,  whom  he  found 
engaged  in  furtively  carving  his  name  on  a  corner 
of  the  little  boys'  building. 

Green  closed  his  knife  very  promptly,  and  accepted 
the  candy  with  silent  enthusiasm. 

"  How'd  you  like  to  take  a  walk,  Green,  with  me 
and  Quip  and  Jones?" 

"I'd  like  it  well  enough  to  walk  with  anybody," 
came  the  rough  answer.  '*  But  I'm  not  allowed  out- 
side this  wretched  yard."  And  Green  went  on  to 
express  his  injured  feelings  in  a  manner  too  realistic 
for  reproduction. 

'  You  needn't  swear  about  it  anyhow,"  interrupted 
Tom,  ;'and  besides,  Mr.  Middleton  has  given  you 
permission." 

Green  opened  his  eyes. 

"What?"  he  gasped. 

Then  Tom  repeated  Mr.  Middleton's  message. 

'Just  my  luck,"  observed  Green,  gazing  ruefully 
at  the  letters  he  had  cut.  *  If  he  sees  those  initials 
I'll  lose  my  conduct-card  again.  I  can't  behave,  to 
save  myself." 

Tom  pulled  out  his  own  knife,  and  forthwith  began 
working  upon  Green's  carving. 

'There!"  he  said  presently.  "If  anybody  can 
make  J.  G.  out  of  that  now  he'll  have  to  be  pretty 
smart.  Come  on,  Johnnie,  and  we'll  have  a  fine 
walk." 

Accordingly  the  four  were  soon  outside  the  college 
grounds,  an  event  which  Green  celebrated  by  put- 
ting a  huge  quid  of  tobacco  into  his  mouth. 

It  was  a  gloomy  afternoon.  The  morning  had 
opened  with  a  black  mass  of  clouds  low  down  upon 
the  eastern  horizon.  With  the  progress  of  the  day, 


'1 

«    rr 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  101 

they  had  been  accumulating  and  spreading  west- 
ward, growing  thicker  and  blacker  in  their  advance, 
till  nearly  half  of  the  firmament  was  now  veiled 
from  the  eye. 

That's  an  ugly  sky,"  observed  Harry. 
There's  lots  of  wind  in   those   clouds,"    added 
Tom.     It  looks  as  though  we'd  have  a  big  storm 
to-night." 

"  So  it  does,"  assented  Alec,  who  did  little  else 
in  ordinary  conversation  beyond  contributing  the 
scriptural  yea  and  nay. 

"  I  aint  afraid  of  storms,"  said  Green. 

'There's  nothing  wonderful  about  that,"  com, 
mented  Tom.  "What  would  you  be  afraid  for?" 

;' Some  fellows  get  scared  when  they  hear  the 
thunder,"  explained  Green;  'but  I  don't  mind  it 
one  bit." 

'I  do,"  said  Alec.  "When  the  thunder  begins, 
and  I'm  in  bed,  I  always  put  my  head  under  the 
blankets  and  pray." 

'That's  'cos  you're  a  coward,"  said  Green  loftily. 
'  I  don't  fear  going  to  bed  in  the  dark  nor  nothin'." 

:<  In  other  words,"  remarked  Quip,  with  a  solemn 
roll  of  his  big  eyes,  "you  aren't  afraid  of  any- 
thing." 

'*  Naw — I  aint  afraid  of  nothing." 

'You're  not  afraid  to  blow,  that's  sure,"  put  in 
Tom,  in  a  matter-of-fact  tone.  "All  the  same, 
Johnnie,  I  rather  think  you'd  be  scared  if  you  knew 
you  had  to  die  right  off." 

'I  don't  know  about  that,"  answered  Green.  '  I 
don't  expect  to  go  to  heaven  anyhow." 

"You  don't?" 

'  Naw;  I  gave  up  trying  to  be  good  long  ago." 


102  TOM   PLA  YFAIR. 

"At  least,  you  might  try  to  make  the  nine  First 
Fridays  that  Father  Nelson  talked  to  us  about  in 
the  chapel,"  suggested  Tom. 

Green  stared  at  him  heavily. 

"He  said,  you  know,"  continued  Tom,  "that 
there's  a  promise  of  grace  to  die  well  for  any  fellow 
that  makes  'em." 

"I  heard  him;  but  once  a  month  is  too  often  for 


me.' 


'Just  think,"  added  Harry  Quip,  'to-morrow's 
the  first  Friday  in  November.  Make  a  start,  Crazy; 
it  wont  hurt  you  to  try." 

"I  guess  I'll  not  begin  yet,"  answered  Green,  as 
he  proceeded  to  roll  a  cigarette. 

"It  would  please  Mr.  Middleton  a  heap,"  Tom 
observed. 

'Yes,  indeed,"  put  in  Alec. 

"  And  it  would  do  you  any  amount  of  good,"  added 
Tom.  "  Come  on,  Johnnie ;  you  sneaked  out  of 
going  to  communion  last  time  the  boys  went.  You 
needn't  stare;  I  had  my  eyes  open,  and  I  saw  you 
dodging.  It's  my  opinion  that  you've  been  dodg- 
ing ever  since  you  came  back  to  college." 

"  Say,  you  didn't  tell  on  me,  did  you  ?" 

'Not  yet,"  answered  Tom  diplomatically — he  had 
never  entertained  the  idea  of  reporting  Green  to  the 
authorities;  "and  I  wont  mention  it  either.  Now 
you'll  go  to-morrow,  wont  you?" 

There  was  a  short  silence. 

'Yes,"  answere  Green  at  length,  and  speaking 
with  an  effort,  '  go." 

Making  their  way  ihrough  the  woods  which  girded 
the  river,  they  presently  arrived  at  a  clearing  upon 
the  bank, 


TOM    PLA  YFAIR.  103 

'Isn't  it  growing  dark  awful  fast?"  exclaimed 
Harry. 

'Just  look  at  those  clouds;  they're  beginning  to 
move  faster  and  faster;  and  they're  coming  our 
way  too,"  cried  Tom. 

4  Let's  run  home,"  suggested  Green. 

Borne  on  the  wings  of  the  storm,  the  dark  masses 
in  the  east  were  advancing  gloomily,  rapidly,  like  a 
marshalled  army.  The  wind  which  carried  them  on 
could  be  faintly  heard,  breaking  upon  the  dread 
silence  which  had  come  over  the  scene  round  about 
them,  as  the  ticking  of  a  watch  at  midnight  upon  a 
nerve-shattered  invalid. 

Fascinated  by  the  sweep  of  clouds,  they  stood, 
these  little  boys,  with  their  eyes  lifted  towards  the 
heavens. 

"Ah!" 

This  exclamation  which  seemed  to  break  from  all 
simultaneously  was  evoked  by  a  sudden  change  in 
the  moving  panorama.  For,  as  they  stood  gazing, 
there  dropped  from  the  bosom  of  these  clouds  thin, 
dark  veils  reaching  from  earth  to  sky. 

"What  is  that?"  cried  Green. 

"I  don't  know,  I'm  sure,"  answered  Tom.  "I 
never  saw  anything  like  that  in  St.  Louis.  Maybe 
it's  rain  moving  this  way.  Anyhow,  the  storm' 11  be 
on  us  in  a  moment.  Just  look  how  it's  rushing 
towards  us.  It's  too  late  to  start  for  the  college. 
Where' 11  we  go  to?" 

And  as  they  set  about  answering  this  question  the 
clouds  came  nearer  and  nearer.  The  whistling  of  the 
breeze  that  one  moment  before  had  seemed  but  to 
emphasize  the  silence,  had  risen  to  an  angry  scream. 

The  four  lads,  wavering  and  irresolute,  not  know- 


104  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

ing  whither  they  should  go  for   shelter,   presented 
a  striking  tableau  as  they  paused  there  in  the  open. 

Tom  stood  with  his  legs  apart  and  firmly  braced. 
His  hands  were  clasped  behind  his  back;  and  with 
his  hat  tilted  so  as  to  show  a  shock  of  thick  black 
hair  over  his  forehead,  and  his  mouth  pursed  as 
though  he  were  about  to  whistle,  he  raised  his  eyes 
in  an  unblinking  gaze  upon  the  angry  clouds.  Next 
him  was  Alec,  pale,  silent,  with  an  awe-stricken  look 
upon  his  fair  face.  He  had  put  his  arm  through 
Tom's,  and  clung  to  our  little  friend  as  a  drowning 
man  to  a  plank.  Tom  was  Alec's  hero.  Harry  Quip 
was  on  the  other  side  of  Tom,  the  usual  grin  still 
lingering  upon  his  merry  face,  and  his  hands  thrust 
deep  in  his  pockets.  Green,  who  stood  in  advance 
of  these,  had  become  intensely  pale..  His  fingers 
were  quivering,  his  breath  came  in  gasps,  and  he 
glanced  over  and  over  from  sky  to  companions,  from 
companions  to  sky. 

The  first  drops  of  rain  began  to  patter  about  them, 
while  the  wind  keeping  time  with  the  movement  of 
the  rain  sent  the  trees  before  them  bowing  and  sway- 
ing in  a  weird  dance,  all  the  more  weird  for  the  un- 
natural darkness  that  had  fallen  upon  all  nature. 

"  Hadn't  we  better  run  ?"  asked  Tom. 

'Yes,"  said  Green,  eagerly.     "Come  on." 

"I'm  afraid,  Tom,  I  can't  run,"  said  poor  Alec. 
'I  feel  weak  and  dizzy,  and  I'm  so  frightened.' 

"Harry  and  John,  go  ahead,"  said  Tom.  "I'll 
stay  with  Alec." 

'No  you  don't,  Tom  "  said  Quip.  "If  you  stay, 
I  stay." 

;' Come  on,  Quip,"  implored  Green,  "they  can 
look  out  for  themselves," 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  105 

"Go  on  yourself,"  said  Harry,  speaking  with  some 
asperity.  '  You  can  take  care  of  yourself,  if  you 
want  to." 

'But  I  don't  want  to  be  alone  in  this  storm." 

'Then  stay  here,"  came  the  curt  answer. 

'Halloa!"  cried  a  voice,  "why  you're  smart  boys 
for  your  age;  you've  chosen  about  the  safest  place 
around  here."  And  John  Donnel,  out  of  breath  with 
running,  emerged  from  the  woods  and  placed  himself 
beside  Green. 

'We  came  near  running  away,"  said  Tom.  "We 
thought  we  could  run  through  the  woods  and  find 
some  house  to  stay  in  till  the  storm  blew  over.  We're 
mighty  glad  to  see  you,  John." 

'  It's  lucky  you  stayed  here.  If  the  wind  gets 
any  worse  the  woods  will  be  a  dangerous  place — fly- 
ing branches  and  lightning  and  what  not!" 

During  this  conversation,  short  as  it  was,  rain  and 
wind  had  grown  worse. 

'Ugh!  we'll  be  drenched  to  the  skin, "said  Tom. 
"Why,  halloa!"  he  added,  "Alec  is  sick." 

Alec  had  pillowed  his  face  on  Tom's  bosom,  and 
before  the  exclamation  was  well  out  of  Tom's  mouth, 
the  poor  child  fainted. 

"Here,  give  me  the  boy,"  shouted  Donnel  (shout- 
ing had  now  become  necessary  as  the  ordinary  tone 
of  conversation).  "I'll  fix  him  in  a  trice."  And 
John,  as  he  spoke,  too4c  Alec  in  his  arms,  carried 
him  to  a  soft  bit  of  earth,  and  depositing  him  gently, 
threw  open  his  collar. 

'Halloa,  Green,  what's  the  matter  ?"  bawled  Tom, 
attracted  by  the  strange  motions  of  the  frightened 
boy. 


io6  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

"I  can't  stand  here;  I've  got  to  run,"  came  the 
answer. 

Donnel  raised  his  face. 

"Stay  where  you  are,"  he  said  sternly;  "if  you 
want  to  die  young,  run  through  those  woods." 

As  he  ceased  speaking,  there  came  a  dazzling 
flash  of  lightning,  followed  almost  instantaneously 
by  a  terrific  clap  of  thunder. 

With  a  wild  cry,  Green  dashed  for  the  woods. 

"Stop  him,  Tom,"  cried  Donnel,  jumping  to  his 
feet,  "stop  him;  he's  lost  his  wits." 

Donnel,  though  many  yards  in  the  rear  of  both, 
had  set  forward  in  hot  pursuit.  As  for  Tom,  he 
scarcely  needed  Donnel's  bidding.  Green  had  not 
fairly  made  a  start  when  Tom  was  at  his  heels. 

Terror,  they  say,  lends  speed.  But  poor  Green 
seemed  to  be  an  exception  to  this  as  to  many  other 
rules.  He  slipped  several  times,  and  once  was  within 
a  little  of  losing  his  balance  and  falling  to  the  earth. 
Indeed  it  seemed  as  though  Tom,  who  was  running 
at  his  best,  would  catch  him  before  he  reached  the 
woods.  But  as  Green  drew  nearer  the  dangerous 
shelter,  he  regained  something  of  his  customary 
speed;  and  Tom,  who  had  thus  far  gained  upon  him, 
began  to  lose  his  advantage;  Donnel,  meanwhile, 
was  lessening  the  distance  between  himself  and  Tom 
at  every  step. 

At  length  Green,  in  passing  a  tree  that  stood  like 
a  sentinel,  guarding  the  main  body  of  the  woods, 
slipped  again,  and  before  he  could  well  recover  him- 
self, Tom  had  come  within  five  feet  of  him.  Then, 
just  as  the  thoroughly  frantic  boy  broke  into  his 
regular  speed,  Tom  sprang  into  the  air,  alighted  on 
Green's  back,  and  bor>*  him  to  the  ground. 


TOM    PLA  YFAIR.  107 

And  while  they  were  still  rolling  upon  the  drenched 
sarth,  there  was  a  sharp  crack,  like  the  report  of  a 
pistol  discharged  at  one's  ear,  a  strange  swishing 
sound,  a  crash  as  of  many  branches  beating  against 
each  other;  and,  twenty  feet  before  them,  there  came 
crashing  to  the  earth  a  giant  oak.  As  it  fell,  a  twig 
struck  Tom  in  the  face. 

In  an  instant,  though  dazed  and  bewildered,  Tom 
had  sprung  to  his  feet.  But  Green  rose  only  to  his 
knees ;  he  was  quivering  with  fear  and  beat  his  breast. 

"Spare  me!  spare  me!"  he  cried.  *  I'll  go  to  con- 
fession this  very  night." 

"  G^t  up,  will  you?"  bawled  John  Donnel,  his 
voice  rising  high  above  the  noises  of  the  elements, 
as  he  caught  Green  by  the  shoulders,  and  dragged 
him  to  his  feet.  "  If  you  don't  move  away  from  here, 
you'll  not  have  a  chance  to  make  a  confession." 

• 

And  without  further  words,  John  dragged  him  back 
into  the  open.  Tom  followed  quietly ;  even  his  face, 
:t  must  be  said,  had  paled  a  trifle. 

And  there  they  stood  motionless  as  statues,  silent 
and  awed  for  two  or  three  minutes;  there  they  stood 
till  in  the  swiftness  of  its  might  the  wind  had  flown 
by  them,  till  the  clouds  had  moved  on  to  the  western 
horizon,  and  left  the  sky  above  them  perfectly  clear, 
till,  in  fine,  the  storm  had  ceased  with  a  suddenness 
befitting  its  violence. 

"  Well,  it's  over  and  all  is  well, "  said  John  Donnel. 

"  I  guess  we  had  better  run  for  college,  John,"  put 
in  Tom,  "and  change  our  things,  or  we'll  get  rheu- 
matism or  small-pox,  or  something  ugly.  What's 
the  matter,  Green?" 

Green  pointed  a  quivering  finger  at  the  western 
Sky. 


io8  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"It  is  coming  back.  Those  clouds  have  stopped 
moving." 

'I  guess  we  can  beat  'em,"  answered  Tom. 
"John,  I'm  awful  glad  you  came.  We'd  have  lost 
our  heads,  if  it  hadn't  been  for  you.  How  did  you 
come  to  be  around  ?" 

"  I  was  hunting  for  snakes  with  Keenan,  and  we 
got  separated ;  you  can  rely  upon  it  that  George  is 
safe  in  college  by  this  time.  Now  boys,  for  a  run 
home.  Are  you  all  right,  Alec?" 

'Yes,  sir,"  said  Alec,  who  had  risen  to  his  feet 
while  the  race  between  Green  and  Tom  had  been 
going  on,  "  but  I'm  afraid  I  can't  run  very  fast." 

'  Here,  put  your  arm  through  mine,"  said  John. 

"And  your  other  arm  through  mine,"  added  Tom, 
whose  color  had  fully  returned. 

In  a  very  short  time,  indeed,  they  were  changing 
their  garments  in  the  dormitory. 

Green  uttered  not  a  word  till  he  was  about  to  leave 
the  room.  Then  he  said: — 

'Tom,  if  you  hadn't  jumped  on  my  back  and 
pulled  me  over,  I'd  be  dead  now.  Ugh!" 

'Yes,"  replied  Tom,  adjusting  his  tie  with  more 
than  wonted  precision;  "and  if  I  hadn't  tumbled 
over  with  you,  I'd  have  been  killed  too.  I  was 
scared  that  time,  I  can  tell  you.  But,  of  course, 
you  weren't  scared."  Tom  grinned  as  he  waited  for 
an  answer. 

"Scared!  I  should  think  I  was.  Say,  Tom,  I 
was  lying  to  you  fellows  about  my  not  being  afraid." 

"You  needn't  tell  us  that,"  said  Tom  bluntly. 

"But  I'm  going  to  change;  see  if  I  don't."  And 
Green  left  the  dormitory  and  went  straight  to  the 
chapel,  leaving  Tom  and  Alec  alone. 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  109 

"Well,  Alec,"  began  Tom,  who  divined  from  the 
timid  lad's  face  that  he  wished  to  say  something, 
"  do  you  feel  shaken  ?" 

"A  little,  Tom.  Did  you  hear  what  Green  said 
just  after  the  storm?" 

"What  did  he  say?" 

"  He  said  it  was  coming  back." 

"Oh,  well!  you  know  he  was  most  scared  out  of 
his  wits." 

"  Tom,  it  is  coming  back." 

"  Nonsense." 

"Well,  I  feel  as  though  something  were  about  to 
happen.  Wont  you  please  pray  for  me  ?" 

And  Alec  caught  Tom's  hand  and  gazed  into  his 
countenance  with  a  sweet  pathos  inexpressibly  touch- 
ing. A  beautiful  face  it  was  that  met  our  hero's, 
nonetheless  beautiful  for  the  modesty  which  nearly 
every  minute  of  the  day  veiled  the  eyes,  and  sent 
the  blood  purpling  the  pale  cheeks.  Now,  however, 
Alec's  eyes  were  wide  open  and  fixed,  oh,  so  appeal- 
ingly,  upon  Tom's.  And  Tom,  as  he  returned  the 
gaze,  was  impressed  with  something  which  he  could 
not  define,  but  which  brought  home  to  him  for  the 
first  time,  that  he  was  in  the  presence  of  a  boy  of 
extraordinary  holiness  and  purity. 

"Why,  of  course  I'll  pray  for  you,  if  you  want  me 
to.  What's  up  ?" 

"  To-morrow,  Tom,  I  finish  making  the  nine  First 
Fridays." 

"Well,  I  don't  see  why  you  want  any  praying 
for.  I  need  it  bad.  I've  done  a  lot  of  things  that 
I  hadn't  ought  to." 

"Yes;  but  you've  done  a  lot  of  good,  too.     I  was 


HO  TOM   PLAY  FAIR. 

so  glad,  Tom,  when  you  spoke  up  to  Green.  You 
know  how  to  talk." 

'That's  what  I've  got  a  tongue  for.  But  it  was 
that  falling  tree  which  fetched  him.  He'll  behave 
decently  for  a  week,  I  reckon." 

Poor  Alec  looked  as  though  he  would  say  more; 
but  words  and  courage  failed  him.  He  again  caught 
his  friend's  hand,  pressed  it,  then  hurried  from  the 
dormitory  with  that  indefinable  expression  which 
Tom  had  noticed  before. 

Tom  continued  sitting  on  his  bed  for  some 
moments  longer. 

'I  didn't  know  that  Alec  Jones,"  he  soliloquized 
as  he  rose.  '  I  thought  he  was  a  little  girl,  but  he's 
a  mighty  good  girl  anyhow." 

And  with  a  grin  on  his  face,  he  left  the  dormitory. 


CHAPTER  XL 

THE  NIGHT  OF   THE  FIRST  FRIDA  Y  IN  NOVEMBER. 

IT  was  ten  of  the  night,   and,   though   so  late  in 
the  season,  quite  warm  and  extremely  oppressive. 
Above,  the  clear  sky  was  gemmed  with  stars.      In 
the  west  hung  a  thick,  black   cloud;     it   had   been 
motionless  all  the  day. 

There  was  a  hush  over  the  dormitory.  The  feeble 
light  of  the  lamp  at  the  entrance  was  utterly  insuffi- 
cient to  limn  the  countenances  of  the  slumberers 
lying  beneath  the  cupola;  and  so  it  would  have  been 
difficult  for  any  one  to  perceive  that  Tom  Playfair, 
whose  bed  stood  directly  beneath  the  cupola,  was 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  Ill 

"wide  awake.  With  the  single  exception  of  the  night 
when  he  undertook  to  exorcise  Green,  who,  by  the 
way,  was  now  his  right-hand  neighbor,  nothing  like 
this  had  ever  happened  to  him  before.  To  his  left 
lay  Alec  Jones;  beyond  him  Harry  Quip,  and,  last 
of  the  row,  John  Pitch.  These  five  were  grouped 
under  and  about  the  cupola.  The  other  occupants 
were  at  the  further  end  of  the  room,  separated  from 
this  row  of  five  by  a  space  of  some  thirty  odd  feet. 
It  will  be  convenient  for  the  reader  to  keep  these 
details  in  mind. 

Tom,  as  I  have  said,  was  awake.  Perhaps  a  sense 
of  novelty  reconciled  him  to  the  situation ;  for  he  lay 
very  quiet.  The  subdued  breathing  of  the  sleepers 
was  the  only  sound  to  break  the  stillness;  without 
the  winds  were  hushed,  and  no  cry  of  man  or  bird 
or  beast  broke  upon  the  brooding  calm  of  the  night. 

For  fully  half  an  hour,  Tom,  from  their  different 
modes  of  breathing,  endeavored  to  place  the  various 
sleepers.  He  easily  picked  out  Harry  Quip's,  and, 
with  more  difficulty,  John  Pitch's.  At  this  point 
he  grew  weary  of  this  new  study,  and  cast  about  in 
his  thoughts  for  some  fresh  diversion.  It  was  hard 
upon  eleven  o'clock,  when  he  concluded  to  arise,  go 
to  a  window,  and  count  the  stars. 

As  he  was  setting  foot  upon  the  floor,  a  silvery, 
sweet  voice,  with  a  sacred  pathos  in  every  tone, 
broke,  or  rather  glorified,  the  silence. 

'My  Jesus,  mercy!" 

The  invocation  came  from  Alec. 

Tom  bent  down  and  gazed  into  the  dreamer's  face. 
Even  with  the  feeble  light,  he  could  perceive  lines 
of  terror  upon  the  slight,  delicate,  innocent  features. 

With  a  gentleness    which,  on  recalling  the  inci- 


112  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

dent  afterwards,  surprised  Tom  himself,  he  lightly 
patted  the  upturned  cheek ;  and  forthwith  the  face 
grew  strangely  calm;  a  smile,  tender  yet  so  feeble 
that  the  facial  muscles  scarce  changed,  passed  over 
it,  and  from  the  lips  came  the  whispered,  '  Sweet 
Heart  of  Jesus,  be  my  love." 

With  his  hand  still  resting  on  the  sleeper's  cheek, 
Tom  stood  gazing  upon  the  radiant  face  in  mute 
admiration. 

"  Amen, "  he  whispered  softly  to  himself.  "  If  ever 
I  get  to  talking  in  my  sleep,  I  hope  I'll  do  it  that 
style." 

He  removed  his  hand;  Alec  opened  his  eyes. 
'You're  all  right,  Alec,"  explained  Tom,  bending 
low  so  as  to  whisper  into  the  boy's  ear,  "You  got  a 
hollering  in  your  sleep,  and  I  just  passed  my  hand 
over  your  cheek.  Go  to  sleep  again.  Goodnight." 
And  he  held  out  his  hand. 

"Good  night,  Tom."  And  Alec  drew  his  hand 
from  the  coverlet  to  clasp  Tom's,  displaying,  as  he 
did  so,  his  rosary  twined  about  the  fragile  arm. 
Then  very  gently  Alec  fell  into  a  calm  slumber. 
Looking  on  such  a  face,  it  was  hard  to  imagine  that 
the  world  was  full  of  wickedness  and  sin. 

Tom  waited  till  he  felt  sure  that  Alec  was  sound 
asleep.     Then  he  murmured  to  himself: 
'I  guess  I'll  count  the  stars  now." 

Walking  over  a-tiptoe  to  one  of  the  western  win- 
dows he  looked  out.  He  counted  no  stars  that  night. 
For  the  dismal,  black  cloud  was  now  in  motion,  ad- 
vancing ominously,  swiftly,  in  a  direct  line  toward 
the  small  boy  standing  in  his  night-shirt  at  the 
window. 

"Whew!"     whistled     the     would-be    star-gazer. 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  113 

"  Green  and  Alec  were  right  after  all.     It  is  coming 
back." 

Even  as  he  spoke,  the  awful  whisper  of  the  ap- 
proaching storm  could  be  heard;  a  whisper  that 
lasted  but  for  a  moment,  when  it  changed  to  a  sigh, 
deepened  into  a  groan,  which  grew  louder,  more 
violent,  more  threatening  every  second. 

'It's  getting  chilly  too,"  murmured  Tom  to  him- 
self. ;'  I  guess  I'll  hop  into  my  pants." 

And  very  quickly  indeed,  he  was  fully  dressed — 
sailor-shirt,  knickerbockers,  stockings,  everything 
save  his  tie  and  his  shoes — and,  with  his  usual  calm- 
ness, returned  to  the  window  to  watch  and  wait  upon 
the  turn  of  events. 

The  patter  of  the  rain  upon  the  roof  could  now  be 
distinctly  heard,  while  far  off  from  the  east  came  the 
muffled  thunder  of  some  distant  storm.  In  attempt- 
ing to  take  another  look  from  the  window,  Tom 
happened  to  touch  a  wire  fastening  for  the  window- 
curtain. 

"Ouch!"  he  muttered,  withdrawing  his  hand  very 
quickly;  and  perhaps  for  the  first  time  since  his 
mother's  death,  he  became  thoroughly  frightened. 
A  queer  feeling  had  passed  through  his  whole  body. 
What  could  it  be  ? 

There  was  something  wrong  about  things,  and  the 
mystery  frightened  him.  He  had  received  a  sharp 
shock;  but  he  knew  nothing  of  electricity. 

The  beating  of  the  rain,  while  Tom  was  still  pon- 
dering, became  louder  and  louder,  and  the  boys  be- 
gan to  move  uneasily  in  their  beds;  many,  indeed, 
were  now  half  awake.  The  wind,  too,  was  howling 
about  the  house  in  a  fury  of  power. 

Tom  had  just  reached  his  bed,  when  a  loud  bang- 
8 


114  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

ing  noise  brought  every  one  in  the  room  from  the 
land  of  sleep;  and  a  gust  of  rain  came  sweeping  in, 
thoroughly  drenching  Tom's  bed.  Ah!  that  ne- 
glected bolt.  The  door  of  the  cupola  had  flown  open, 
and  was  now  flapping  noisily  against  the  lightning- 
rod. 

As  with  noisy  recurrence  it  opened  and  shut,  Tom 
caught  a  glimpse  of  the  stars  on  the  clear  eastern 
horizon,  and  almost  directly  overhead  that  black, 
sinister  cloud,  hanging  like  a  curse  over  St.  Maure's. 

Even  while  he  was  taking  in  this  strange  aspect 
of  the  heavens,  the  water  had  formed  into  several 
pools  upon  the  floor.  Quip,  Jones,  Green,  and  Pitch, 
all  of  them  with  appalled  faces,  had  grouped  them- 
selves beside  Tom.  No  wonder  they  were  alarmed; 
the  frightful  banging  of  the  door,  coupled  with  the 
fierce  beat  of  the  sheeted  rain,  was  an  overtax  on 
the  nerves  of  the  boldest. 

"Oh,  Tom!"  chattered  Green,"  I'm  glad  I  went  to 
Holy  Communion  this  morning." 

;<  So'm  I,"  answered  Tom.  "  Say,  boys,  I'm  going 
to  shut  that  door,  even  if  I  do  get  a  ducking.  Good- 
by."  And  he  made  a  dash  at  the  ladder. 

Unmindful  of  the  rain  which  almost  blinded  him, 
lie  succeeded  at  length  in  securing  a  hold  on  the  door. 
But  pull  and  tug  as  he  might,  the  wind,  now  at  its 
height,  held  its  own;  till  at  last,  in  a  sudden  lull, 
the  door  yielded  to  his  efforts. 

'  Now,  if  I  could  only  get  my  hand  on  that 
bolt—" 

He  never  finished  this  sentence.  For  as  he  was 
still  groping  about  for  the  knob,  the  wind  in  a  sud- 
den rise  sent  the  door  flying  from  his  grasp.  There 
was  a  sharp,  clanging  sound,  and  the  dull  noise  of 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  115 

some  heavy  object  beating  upon  the  roof;  and,  as  the 
door,  torn  from  its  hinges,  pulled  the  lightning-rod 
down  from  the  cupola,  Tom  lost  his  balance,  and 
was  thrown  backwards  from  his  perch.  Happily  for 
himself,  he  was  flung  upon  his  bed,  whence  he  rolled 
to  the  floor. 

Two  boys  assisted  him  to  rise,  and  gazed  anxiously 
into  his  face. 

On  that  occasion  Tom,  far  from  being  stunned, 
was  unusually  awake  to  every  impression.  His  senses 
had  become  sharpened;  and  as  he  rose  to  his  feet 
he  took  in  the  whole  scene.  At  the  other  end  of  the 
dormitory  stood  huddled  together  all  the  boys  save 
Harry,  Pitch,  Alec,  and  Green.  The  prefect  was 
just  advancing  from  the  group  towards  them.  Tom 
could  see  all  this,  for  the  simple  reason  that  a  cas- 
socked  figure — he  recognized  the  President  of  the 
college — had  just  entered  with  a  lamp  that  lighted 
the  whole  room. 

The  two  who  had  lifted  him  to  his  feet  were  Jones 
and  Green.  Upon  the  face  of  Alec  there  still  dwelt 
that  sweet  expression,  brought  from  dreamland,  but 
softened  and  beautified  in  a  new  way  by  concern  for 
Tom's  safety.  Green's  face  had  strangely  changed. 
All  the  roughness  had  gone  out  of  it.  Awe  and  pity 
— awe  at  the  storm,  pity  for  Tom — had  touched  it 
into  refinement. 

All  this,  I  say,  Tom  took  notice  of,  as  they  raised 
him  to  his  feet. 

"You're  not  hurt,  old  fellow,  are  you?"  inquired 
Green  earnestly. 

"Not  a  bit." 

"Thank  God!"  murmured  Alec. 

''I'm  glad  I  went  this  morning,"  said  Green. 


n6  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

"Tom,"  said  Harry,   "we'll  help  you  pull  your 
bed  away." 

"Oh,   it's   no  use   getting   drenched   the   way   I 


am.1 


"We  don't  mind  that,"  said  Green,  and  he  and 
Alec  sprang  forward  towards  Tom's  bed. 

They  had  not  taken  two  steps,  when  there  came  a 
dazzling  flash  of  light.  Tom  fell  violently  to  the 
floor,  pillowed  upon  the  body  of  some  one  who  had 
fallen  before  him,  where  he  lay  motionless,  yet  con- 
scious, and  with  a  feeling  as  though  every  muscle 
and  fibre  of  his  body  had  been  wrenched  asunder — 
lay  there  gazing  up  into  a  sky  now  suddenly  brilliant 
with  stars,  into  a  rainless  sky  with  not  a  cloud  to  mar 
its  tranquil  beauty. 

The  storm  was  over. 

And  as  he  fell  the  President's  lamp  had  gone  out, 
and  in  the  dazzling  brilliancy  of  that  awful  flash  he 
had  seen  five  boys  standing  under  the  cupola  go 
plunging  forward  violently  to  the  floor,  while  the 
smell  as  of  burnt  powder  and  of  ozone  pervaded  the 
whole  apartment.  Then,  almost  simultaneously  in- 
deed, came  a  deafening  noise.  To  the  President's 
ears  it  sounded  like  the  explosion  of  a  powder  mag- 
azine at  his  side.  But  he  knew  that  it  was  not  an 
explosion  of  powder;  he  knew  too  well  that  it  was 
the  thunder  following  the  lightning  flash  which  had 
stricken  down  his  boys  before  his  very  eyes;  and,  in 
the  dread  hush  and  darkness  that  followed,  the  Pres- 
ident's voice,  clear  and  firm,  filled  the  room  with 
the  words  of  sacramental  absolution,  as,  raising  his 
hand  and  making  the  sign  of  the  cross,  he  said: — 

4 '  Ego  vos  absolvo  a  peccatis  vestris  in  nomine  Patris 
et  Filii  et  Spiritus  Sancti.  Amen." 


TOM   PL  A  YFAIR.  1 1 7 

'  I  absolve  you  from  your  sins,  in  the  name  of 
the  Father  and  of  the  Son  and  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 
Amen." 

The  presiding  prefect  had,  in  the  mean  time,  re- 
lighted the  dormitory  lamp  (which  had  also  gone 
out  in  the  shock  of  the  lightning  stroke),  and  was 
now  standing  beside  his  superior. 

'Boys,"  continued  the  latter,  who  in  the  dim  light 

perceived  several  moving  forms,  "  take  your  clothes 

on  your  arm,  and  leave  this  room  quietly,  one  by 

one.     Go  to  the  infirmary;   the  storm  is  now  over, 

.and  there's  not  the  least  danger." 

On  occasions  such  as  this  the  panic  does  not  im- 
mediately follow  the  catastrophe.  Between  the 
two  there  is  always  a  lull — a  time  when  the  imagi- 
nation of  each  is  charging  itself  with  the  real- 
ization of  what  has  passed,  with  the  picturing  of 
what  may  come.  That  done,  the  panic  takes  its 
course. 

The  president  had  taken  the  right  time  for  speak- 
ing. Had  he  lost  his  head  for  one  moment,  there 
would  have  ensued,  in  all  probability,  a  frightful 
scene.  But  his  calmness  gained  the  mastery  overall. 
Quietly,  noiselessly,  with  pitiful  faces,  the  boys 
passed  down  the  stairs.  How  eagerly  he  counted 
them.  It  was  the  most  trying  period  of  his  long 
life. 

Six  passed. 

Three  more — nine. 

Three  more — twelve.     The  last  was  the  prefect. 

Then  there  was  a  silence. 

His  senses,  then,  had  not  deceived  him.  Five  had 
been  struck  by  lightning. 

He  had  relighted  his  lamp,  and  now  hastened  to 


n8  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

the  other  end.  Tom,  his  eyes  closed,  lay  with  his 
head  pillowed  upon  Green's  body;  near  him  Alec 
Jones,  calm — so  quiet!  Beyond  was  Quip,  breath- 
ing heavily  with  an  ugly  gash  upon  his  face.  Pitch 
was  in  a  sitting  posture,  murmuring  incoherent 
words. 

'Tom!"  cried  the  President,  stooping  down,  and 
catching  the  boy's  hand. 

The  eyes  opened. 

'Yes,  sir;  I'm  all  right;  what's  happened?" 

The  president  made  a  slight  gesture,  and  bent  over 
Green.  No  need  to  listen  for  the  breath  that  never 
would  return.  He  moved  over  to  Alec  Jones,  and  a 
stifled  sob  burst  from  his  bosom.  Green  and  Jones 
had  been  instantly  killed;  had  never  heard  the  crash 
that  followed  the  dazzling  stroke;  had  been  called 
suddenly  before  that  God  whom  they  had  received 
at  the  morning  Mass  into  their  bosoms.  It  was  the 
First  Friday. 

Tom's  wet  garments  had  saved  him.  The  elec- 
tricity had  taken  its  way  through  his  clothes  instead 
of  through  himself.  But  he  did  not  know  at  the 
moment  that  he  had  passed  forth  free  from  the  jaws 
of  death;  for  not  one  of  those  now  remaining  in  the 
dormitory,  save  the  President,  was  aware  that  the 
power  which  sent  them  stunned  to  the  floor  was  the 
awful  power  of  the  thunderbolt. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  119 


CHAPTER   XII. 

TOM^S  MIDNIGHT  ADVENTURE. 

«  TJ  ARRY— are  you  hurt  ?  " 

1  1  Tom  was  bending  over  Harry  Quip.  But 
there  came  no  answer.  The  president  touched  Tom 
lightly  on  the  shoulder. 

'Playfair,"  he  said,  "can  I  trust  you  to  keep 
cool  ? " 

'Yes,  sir!  if  you  just  tell  me  what's  happened. 
There  was  a  queer  feeling  went  through  me  just  now, 
and  something  seemed  to  burn  my  right  leg." 

'  The  house  has  been  struck  by  lightning,  and  you 
received  a  slight  shock.  Harry  Quip  got  a  worse 
one,  and  Green  and  Jones  are  seriously  injured.  You 
and  Pitch  might  remove  Harry  to  a  bed  over  there; 
but  don't  tell  him,  when  he  comes  to,  what's  hap- 
pened to  the  others,  and  be  sure  not  to  show  him  a 
long  face,  or  you'll  frighten  him." 

;< Catch  hold  of  his  head,  Johnny,"  said  Tom. 
With  tender  care,  they  conveyed  poor  Harry  to  the 
nearest  bed;  while  the  president,  still  cherishing  a 
faint  hope  in  his  heart,  eagerly  sought  to  discover 
some  signs  of  life  in  Green  and  Jones. 

Harry,  shortly  after  being  placed  upon  the  bed, 
gave  signs  of  consciousness. 

"  Halloa,  Harry,"  cried  Tom,  forcing  a  grin. 

'  Tom ! '      Harry  gave  a  gasp. 

"Yes;  it's  me;  and  you're  all  right,  old  boy." 

"  Wh— what's  happened  ?" 


120  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 


," 


"  An  electric  machine  got  loose,  or  something, 
plied  our  ingenious  hero,  "  and  spilled  itself  on  top 
of  us.  They  let  you  have  it  at  fairs  for  five  cents  a 
head." 

But  even  this  comic  view  of  the  situation  failed  to 
win  a  smile  from  Harry. 

"  Where's  my  leg  ? '    he  gasped. 

:<  Both  your  legs  are  screwed  on  in  the  right  place." 

'No:  my  right  leg's  gone. " 

Tom  caught  the  right  leg  and  lifted  it  into  full 


vew. 
' 


How  does  that  strike  you  ?  " 

"But  I  don't  feel  it." 

"Well,  catch  hold  of  it,  then;  it  won't  come  off. 
You  gave  me  an  awful  kick  with  it  just  a  moment 
ago." 

"I'm  choking,"  continued  Harry. 

"  If  you  were,  you  couldn't  talk." 

"But  I  can't  swallow.  Oh!  "  And  Harry  looked 
more  and  more  frightened. 

"  Who  the  mischief  asked  you  to  swallow  ?  It  isn't 
breakfast  time  yet,  and  there's  nothing  to  eat  round 
here,  anyhow." 

The  infirmarian,  who  had  entered  at  the  beginning 
of  this  conversation,  and  who,  having  satisfied  him- 
self that  Green  and  Jones  were  dead,  had  now  come 
to  Harry's  side,  here  broke  in. 

"Playfair,  we  want  the  doctor  at  once.  Run  down- 
stairs to  the  room  on  the  next  floor  where  the  brothers 
sleep.  They  are  dressing  now  to  come  up  here  and 
lend  us  help.  Take  the  first  one  you  meet,  or  the 
one  that's  nearest  dressed,  and  tell  him  to  hurry  off 
after  the  doctor:  we  want  him  for  Harry  Quip." 

Waiting  for  no.  second  bidding,  Tom,  followed  by 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  121 

Pitch,  hurried  from  the  dormitory.  Luckily  they 
met  a  brother  who  was  just  coming  up  the  stairs: 
and  as  the  house  clock  struck  twelve,  Tom  delivered 
his  message. 

'I'll  have  the  doctor  here  within  half  an  hour," 
said  the  brother,  turning  about  at  once. 

'I'm  coming  along,  Brother  George." 

"  No:  you'd  better  go  to  sleep." 

"  I  couldn't  sleep  now,  brother.  Oh,  please  let  me 
go." 

Brother  George  made  no  answer,  and  Tom,  taking 
silence  for  consent,  followed  after  him.  As  a  matter 
of  course,  Pitch  clung  to  his  leader. 

Once  out  of  doors,  they  sped  through  the  garden, 
and  took  the  high-road  leading  to  St.  Maure's.  Sud- 
denly their  course  was  arrested,  for  a  most  unprece- 
dented thing  had  come  to  pass.  There  was  an  in- 
significant creek  flowing  past  the  college  and  down 
to  the  river.  Ordinarily  it  was  very  shallow,  but 
the  furious  rain  of  the  preceding  day  and  the  past 
hour  had  caused  it  to  swell  into  a  muddy  torrent. 
Worst  of  all,  there  was  no  sign  of  the  bridge. 

'  The  bridge  has  been  swept  away! '    cried  Tom. 

'I  wish  I  could  swim,"  said  Brother  George. 
;'Boys,  you  remain  here,  and  I'll  go  to  one  of  the 
houses  on  this  side  and  get  help." 

Scarcely  had  he  turned  his  back  upon  them  when 
Tom  pulled  off  his  shoes,  stockings,  and  sailor  shirt. 

'What  are  you  going  to  do,  Tom  ? " 

'Didn't  you  hear  the  brother  say  he'd  swim  it  if 
he  could.  I  can  swim  that  far." 

'Oh,  but  it's  an  awful  current.  You'll  be  carried 
down  to  the  river." 

Tom  gazed   at   the   swirling   stream,    apparently 


122  TOM  PLAYFAIR 

some  fifty  feet  wide,  moving  in  all  the  swing  of  a 
torrent  at  his  feet. 

''I'll  bet  I  won't,"  he  said  presently.  'Anyhow, 
I'm  willing  to  take  a  risk  for  old  Quip.  Here, 
Johnny,  just  lend  me  your  scap'lers.  I  haven't  been 
rolled  in  them  yet;  but  it  won't  hurt  me  to  wear  'em. 
I  think  I'd  better  start  higher  up  so  as  to  land  about 
here  on  the  other  side." 

Having  put  Pitch's  scapulars  about  his  neck,  Tom 
ran  some  distance  up  stream. 

"Now,  Pitch,  good-by.  Shake  hands.  It's  a 
risk,  you  know.  If  anything  happens,  you  send  word 
to  my^father  and  my  aunt  that  I  had  the  scap'lers  on. " 

Tom  was  decidedly  of  the  opinion  that  this  bit  of 
information  would  make  up  for  anything  that  might 
occur.  So,  somewhat  serious,  yet  light  and  bold  of 
heart,  he  slipped  into  the  water. 

He  took  one  step  forward,  and  found  himself  up 
to  his  waist;  another  step,  and  caught  by  the  current 
he  was  whirled  down  stream  like  a  cork.  But  this 
cork  had  legs  and  arms,  and  struck  out  vigorously 
for  the  shore.  Vigorous  as  were  his  strokes,  how- 
ever, he  felt  almost  at  once  that  he  would  in  any 
event  be  carried  far  down  stream  before  reaching  the 
other  shore.  For  all  that,  he  struck  out  bravely, 
beating  the  water  with  over-hand  stroke.  Tom,  at 
this  period  of  his  life,  was  by  no  means  an  expert 
swimmer.  He  had  attended  a  swimming-school  sev- 
eral times  a  week  during  the  last  summer,  and  had 
succeeded  in  learning  to  swim  a  short  distance  and 
to  float  on  his  back.  But  he  knew  nothing  of  swim- 
ming with  the  current,  and,  in  consequence,  quickly 
expended  his  strength.  Before  he  had  gone  two- 
thirds  of  the  distance  across  he  was  worn  out.  But 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  123 

his  presence  of  mind  did  not  desert  him.  Murmur- 
ing a  prayer,  he  turned  over  on  his  back,  and,  mov- 
ing his  feet  gently,  he  suffered  himself  to  be  carried 
along.  He  had  not  drifted  far,  when  his  body  came 
in  contact  with  something  a  few  feet  below  the  water. 
Turning  instantly  he  secured  a  hold  on  it  with  his 
hands. 

"  Hurrah!  "  he  shouted  to  Pitch.  "  I'm  all  right. 
I've  found  the  railing  of  the  bridge.  It's  only  about 
two  feet  under  water." 

And  clinging  to  this,  Tom  made  his  way  hand  over 
hand,  as  it  were,  to  the  opposite  shore. 

Dr.  Mullan  was  not  a  little  surprised  when  he 
opened  his  front  door  three  minutes  later  upon  a  boy 
arrayed  in  the  simplicity  of  undershirt  and  knicker- 
bockers, who  was  battering  away  at  his  door  with  a 
log  of  wood  as  though  he  would  burst  it  open. 

"Oh,  doctor,  our  college  has  been  struck  by  light- 
ning. Three  fellows  are  badly  hurt,  and  you're 
wanted  there  right  off." 

"John!  '  bawled  the  doctor,  "saddle  my  horse  at 
once.  Come  in,  boy;  you'll  need  a  doctor,  too,  if 
you  don't  look  out.  How  did  you  wet  yourself  ? ' 

"  I  couldn't  find  the  bridge,  sir,  and  I  tried  to  swim 
across.  I  found  it  then,  or  I  reckon  I'd  be  in  the 
river  by  this  time." 

The  doctor's  wife,  who  had  caught  these  words, 
now  came  forward,  and  kissing  Tom  in  true  motherly 
style — an  action  which  Tom,  in  his  state  of  excite- 
ment, took  no  notice  of — drew  off  his  undershirt, 
and  threw  her  own  cloak  about  him. 

"  That's  just  the  thing,  Mary,"  put  in  Dr.  Mullan. 
"  Now  get  him  a  small  glass  of  brandy,  while  I 
put  him  to  bed. 


124  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"Oh,  I  say,"  cried  Tom.  "I'm  not  sick:  you  go 
off  and  take  care  of  the  fellows  that  need  you." 

Returning  no  answer  to  this  expostulation,  the 
doctor  pushed  Tom  into  his  own  sleeping-room,  and 
without  further  ceremony  pulled  off  our  young  swim- 
mer's knickerbockers,  and  proceeded  to  rub  him 
down  vigorously. 

"Ouch,"  cried  Tom,  suddenly. 

"Why,  boy,  you're  burnt." 

The  doctor  was  gazing  at  a  spot  on  Tom's  right 
knee  about  the  form  and  size  of  the  human  heart. 

;'  I  thought  there  was  something-  the  matter  when 
I  pulled  off  my  stocking:  that's  where  the  electricity 
took  me." 

'  Were  you  struck,  too?  " 

'I  think  so;  I  went  tumbling  over  as  if  I  was 
paralyzed.  That  burn  isn't  much. " 

"It's  good  it's  no  more."  And  the  doctor,  who 
had  opened  a  medicine  chest,  applied  an  ointment  to 
the  spot,  bandaged  it,  and  had  Tom  wrapped  warm 
in  his  own  bed  before  his  wife  entered  the  room  with 
the  glass  of  brandy. 

'  Now,  boy,  these  are  your  orders.  You  stay  in 
this  bed  till  nine  o'clock  to-morrow.  By  keeping 
quiet,  you'll  escape  the  consequences  of  over-excite- 
ment and  over-exertion.  You  understand  ?  " 

'But,  doctor,  I  can't  sleep." 

'You  can,  though.  Mary,  if  this  boy  doesn't  go 
to  sleep  in  ten  minutes,  give  him  a  teaspoonful  of 
this.  Now  good-by. " 

The  doctor,  aided  by  the  directions  of  Pitch  and 
the  brother,  easily  found  the  bridge,  and  made  the 
college  in  a  few  minutes.  Jones  and  Green  gave 
him  no  trouble:  they  were  beyond  doctors'  skill 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  125 

—  had  been  from  the  moment  the  bolt  touched 
them. 

But  for  the  rest  of  the  night  he  was  busy  nursing 
and  warming  and  rubbing  poor  Harry's  legs  into 
life. 

Tom,  meanwhile,  under  the  influence  of  an  opiate, 
slept  a  dreamless  sleep,  watched  over  with  loving 
care  by  a  gentle  woman. 


CHAPTER   XIII. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  TAKES  A    TRIP. 

AS  this  story  concerns  Thomas  Playfair  and  only 
incidentally  the  history  of  St.  Maure's,  the  reader 
will  be  spared  the  sad  details  concerning  the  night 
of  the  catastrophe,  and  of  the  ensuing  days  of 
mourning. 

Tom,  whom  we  have  to  do  with,  was  conducted 
to  the  infirmary  Saturday  morning  by  the  doctor  in 
person. 

"Brother,"  he  said  to  the  infirmarian,  "here's  a 
boy  who's  to  get  complete  rest  for  the  next  seven  or 
eight  days." 

Tom,  who  was  standing  behind  the  doctor  and  the 
infirmarian,  smiled  genially,  raised  his  right  leg,  and, 
while  balancing  himself  on  his  left,  waved  4t  spas- 
modically. 

"Just  look  at  him,"  continued  the  doctor,  turning 
sharply  and  catching  him  in  the  act;  '  he's  trying  to 
knock  his  burned  leg  against  something  even  now." 

"No,  I  ain't,"  protested  the  discomfited  acrobat, 
bringing  his  foot  to  the  floor;  "  I'm  not  a  fool." 


126  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

Whereupon  he  resumed  his  smile:  the  rogue  knew 
that  Harry  Quip  would  be  his  companion. 

"Of  course,  brother,"  pursued  the  man  of  medi- 
cine, "you  are  to  diet  him." 

Tom's  face  fell. 

"  Diet  me!  with  what,  doctor  ? ' 

"With  a  boat-hook,"  answered  the  grave  practi- 
tioner without  showing  the  least  sign  of  a  twinkle  in 
his  eye.  He  added  in  a  lower  tone  to  the  infirma- 
rian:  "  Three  pieces  toast  and  tea  for  breakfast,  same 
for  supper,  with  beef-tea  instead  of  tea  for  dinner." 

Tom  overheard  him. 

"  I  say,"  he  broke  in,  "  I'm  not  sick.  I  want  to  go 
to  school,  and  keep  up  with  my  class." 

"You  can't  go  out  for  a  week,  sir;  and  if  you 
dpn't  keep  your  legs  quiet,  I'll  not  let  you  out  for 
two  weeks.  Now,  remember,  young  fellow,  no  hop- 
ping over  beds,  no  skipping,  no  jumping  about  the 
room,  no  running.  When  you  have  to  walk,  walk 
slowly.  But  the  best  thing  you  can  do  is  to  keep 
perfectly  quiet." 

"Oh,  pshaw!" 

Tom  was  disgusted.  Even  Quip,  jolly  as  ever, 
though  battered,  could  not  reconcile  him  to  his  im- 
prisonment. Nor  did  he  become  more  reconciled  as 
the  days  passed. — After  swallowing  his  toast,  he  was 
wont  to  seek  out  the  infirmarian. 

"Brother,"  he  would  say,  "I  think  I'm  r^ady  for 
breakfast  now." 

"  I  just  brought  it  to  you." 

"What!  you  call  that  a  breakfast?  Look  here, 
brother,  I'm  paid  for." 

The  brother  would  answer  with  a  grin,  and  Tom 
would  turn  away  growling. 


TOM  PLA  YfiAlR.  127 

On  Saturday  of  the  following  week  he  received  a 
letter  which  elicited  a  whoop  from  him. 

"  What  are  you  howling  about  now  ?  "  asked  Quip, 
who  with  the  exception  of  a  slight  bruise  and  a 
touch  of  stiffness,  was  as  well  as  ever. 

"Read  it  yourself,"  cried  Tom,  tossing  the  letter 
to  Harry,  and  hopping  about  the  room  in  an  ecstasy 
of  joy. 

Thus  the  letter  ran: 

ST.  Louis,  Nov.  6th,  18 — . 
MASTER  THOMAS  PLAYFAIR: 

Dear  Son. — Have  just  heard  from  president  of  college 
fuller  details  of  calamity,  and  of  your  sickness.  Hear,  too,  that 
you  have  been  changing  for  the  better — got  more  sense — more 
faithful  to  your  duty — study  harder.  Glad  to  learn,  too,  that  you 
are  brave,  tho*  far  too  reckless.  Best  of  all,  I'm  told  that  your 
company  is  good. 

Although  president  pronounces  you  quite  well,  he  thinks  that 
a  few  weeks'  rest  and  change  might  be  safe,  as  nervous  shocks 
are  likely  to  leave  after-effects. 

As  I  wrote  you  last  September,  your  uncle  has  gone  to  Cincin- 
nati, where,  as  he  says,  he  is  studying  law.  In  a  few  days  I 
shall  be  compelled  to  go  there  on  business,  and  your  aunt  has 
already  made  an  engagement  to  see  a  friend  there. 

Start  for  Cincinnati  at  once.  Will  telegraph  your  uncle  to  meet 
you  at  depot.  Have  advised  president  to  procure  you  through 
ticket,  and  enclose  you  twenty-five  dollars  for  pocket  money. 

Good-by  till  we  meet,  and  God  bless  you. 

Your  father,  GEORGE  PLAYFAIR. 

At  half-past  two  that  afternoon  Tom,  standing  on 
the  platform  of  a  car,  waved  his  handkerchief  to  his 
playmates  as  the  train  shot  past  the  college. 

Kansas  City  was  reached  fifteen  minutes  after 
scheduled  time;  and  Tom,  who  had  been  counting 
for  the  last  three  hours  on  a  grand  lunch  at  the  rail- 
road depot,  was  obliged  to  hurry  from  his  car  to  the 
Cincinnati  train  in  order  to  make  connections. 


128  TOM  PLA  YFA1R. 

But  here  his  forced  patience  was  rewarded. 

*  Ladies  and  gents!  "  shouted  a  fat  little  man,  who 

seemed  to  be  in  a  perpetual  state  of  breathlessness, 

"a  dining-car  is  attached  to  this  train;    and  supper, 

with  all  the  delicacies  of  the  season,  is  now  served." 

"  How  much  ? "  inquired  Tom,  catching  the  fat 
man's  sleeve,  and  fastening  upon  him  one  of  the 
most  earnest  gazes  the  fat  man  had  ever  encountered. 

'  Seventy-five  cents  cash  without  any  chromo.  Do 
you  want  to  come  in  for  half  price  ?  Do  you  take 
us  for  a  circus  ? '  The  fat  man  was  chuckling  be- 
tween each  word. 

"  Pshaw!  Is  that  all  ?  Why,  mister,  I'd  be  willing 
to  lay  out  five  dollars  on  a  square  meal.  You're 
going  to  lose  on  me  this  trip.  I've  got  a  whole  week 
to  make  up  for." 

'  Come  right  along,  then,"  said  the  fat  man. 

And  Tom  needed  no  second  bidding. 

A  negro  with  an  austere  face  and  a  white  apron 
moved  a  chair  for  Tom,  and,  handing  him  the  menu, 
waited  for  the  order. 

Tom's  brows  knitted  as  he  read  the  bewildering 
list — a  sort  of  macaronic  out  of  rhyme  and  metre. 

'I  say,  couldn't  you  let  me  have  a  program  in 
English  of  this  entertainment." 

The  negro,  changing  his  austere  expression  not 
one  whit,  rattled  forth — 

'Chicken  roast  or  boiled,  chicken  salad;  eggs 
fried,  poached,  boiled,  omelette  with  jelly  if  preferred ; 
beefsteak,  lamb,  mutton  chops,  veal,  ham,  sausages; 
potatoes,  fried,  boiled,  Saratoga  chips;  tomatoes 
raw,  egg-plant,  baked  beans,  apple  and  custard  pie, 
coffee,  cream,  tea,  and  bananas." 

"That'll  do,  I  think,"  said  Tom:  "fetch  'em  in." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  129 

The  waiter  changed  expression. 

"  Fetch  in  which  ?  " 
'Those  things  you  were  singing  out." 

The  waiter  scratched  his  head. 

'  Look  here,"  said  Tom,  confidentially.  "  I  haven't 
had  a  square  meal  for  a  week.  A  doctor's  been  prac- 
tising on  me,  till  I'm  nearly  ruined,  Now,  you  just 
go  to  work  and  get  me  lots  to  eat;  get  me  a  good 
square  meal,  and  I'll  give  you  fifty  cents  for  your- 
self." 

There  wasn't  a  sign  of  austerity  on  the  negro's 
face  as  he  hurried  away.  Tom  was  served  with  a 
meal  fit  for  a  starving  prince.  And  he  did  it  justice. 

The  negro,  stationed  behind  him,  could  scarce 
credit  his  eyes.  Nothing  equal  to  Tom's  perform- 
ances had  ever  come  under  his  observation.  Tom, 
ignorant  of  the  admiration  he  had  excited,  plied  knife 
and  fork  in  a  quiet,  determined  way,  wishing  in  his 
heart  that  the  doctor  and  infirmarian  could  see  him. 
It  would  be  a  sweet  revenge. 

"Come  here,"  whispered  the  waiter  to  one  of  his 
fellows;  "this  young  chap  won't  be  able  to  get  up. 
He'll  bust." 

However,  after  three-quarters  of  an  hour's  steady 
attention  to  the  matter  in  hand,  Torn  arose  quite 
calmly  (whereupon  four  waiters,  who  had  been  view- 
ing his  performance  from  behind,  and  expressing 
their  wonder  in  dumb  shows,  slipped  quietly  away) 
and,  making  a  huge  sign  of  the  cross,  returned  thanks 
for  his  meal. 

'I  said  my   'prayers  after  meals'  three    times," 
he  remarked  confidentially  to  the  waiter  as  he  gave 
him  one  dollar  and   twenty-five  cents,    *  because   I 
think  I  got  in  at  least  three  suppers." 
9 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

Tom  ought  to  have  been  sick  that  night.  He 
should  have  suffered  intensely. 

The  doctors  and  story  books  are  at  one  on  this 
point.  All  the  same,  he  retired  early  and  slept  a 
dreamless  sleep  which  lasted  for  over  nine  hours. 

And  if  the  recording  angel  put  any  one  on  the 
black  list  for  gluttony  on  that  particular  day,  I  am 
inclined  to  think  it  was  the  doctor,  and  not  the  patient. 


CHAPTER   XIV. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  GOES  TO    THE  THE  A  TRE. 

OHORTLY  after  six  o'clock  of  the  following  even- 
O  ing  the  brakeman,  throwing  open  the  door  of 
the  Pullman  car,  bawled  out  what  sounded  like 
4  Hydrostatic,"  but  was  really  intended  to  convey 
the  correct  railroad  pronunciation  of  Cincinnati. 

Tom  seized  his  valise  and  hurried  through  the  car 
into  the  depot. 

'Why,  Tommy! '  cried  our  old  (or  young)  friend 
Mr.  Meadow,  rushing  up  and  catching  Tom's  dis- 
engaged hand,  "welcome  to  Cincinnati;  glad  to  see 
you.  And  you  look  so  well!  You've  grown,  too, 
and  you're  improved  ever  so  much." 

'I'm  real  glad  to  see  you,  uncle,"  said  Tom,  re- 
turning the  hearty  hand-shake  with  no  less  hearti- 
ness, "indeed  I  am.  You've  changed,  too.  Your 
mustache  is  very  plain  now — isn't  it  ?  And  you're 
dressed  awful  stylishly.  I'm  glad  I've  my  new 
clothes  on,  or  I'd  feel  ashamed  to  walk  with  you. 
How  do  you  like  Cincinnati  ? " 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  131 

"It's  a  splendid  place,  Tommy,"  answered  Mr. 
Meadow  as  they  walked  out  of  the  depot  and  made 
toward  a  street-car.  'The  people  are  very  nice; 
and  there's  more  amusement  here  than  in  St.  Louis." 

Tom  took  a  stealthy  side-glance  at  his  uncle.  Oh, 
these  little  boys!  Some  of  them  read  characters  with 
an  intuition  which  humbles  the  widest  experience. 

'  Yes !  but  I  thought  you  came  here  to  study  law. " 

"So  I  did;  but  I'm  kept  so  busy  that  I  haven't 
settled  down  yet." 

'  You  look  heavy  round  the  eyes,  as  if  you  stayed 
up  late,  uncle." 

'Yes;  I  suffer  from  insomnia  a  great  deal,"  an- 
swered Mr.  Meadow,  puzzled  to  find  that  he  was 
annoyed  under  Tom's  innocent  analysis.  '  How 
have  you  been  doing  since  you  left  St.  Louis? ': 

'Pretty  well,  uncle.  I  made  a  bad  start;  but 
now  I'm  doing  better.  You  see,  uncle,  I'm  trying 
to  get  ready  to  make  my  First  Communion." 

"Indeed!" 

'Yes.  I  hope  it  will  be  the  happiest  day  of  my 
life. " 

A  few  earnest,  sympathetic  words  from  Mr.  Meadow 
at  this  juncture  might  have  raised  their  mutual 
relations  to  a  higher  level.  But  Mr.  Meadow  did 
not  understand  boys.  His  influence  on  Tom,  in 
consequence,  was  bad.  He  said: 

"Here's  our  car;  jump  on,  Tommy." 

His  chance  was  gone.  He  noticed  a  strange  ex- 
pression on  Tom's  face;  it  was  as  though  the  boy 
had  received  a  blow.  Now,  there  was  nothing  in  the 
words  of  the  uncle  to  produce  this  effect;  but  in  our 
mutual  relations  there  is  something  more  potent  than 
words.  Manner,  expression,  and  sympathy,  or  the 


I32  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

want  of  it,  are  the  chief  causes  that  go  towards  gain- 
ing or  losing  our  influence  upon  one  another.  Mr. 
Meadow  felt  that  a  wall  of  separation  had  at  once 
arisen  between  himself  and  his  nephew;  that  their 
intercourse  hereafter  was  to  be  on  the  surface. 

He  fell  into  a  train  of  reflection  suggested  by  this 
incident,  and,  while  Tom,  with  the  lively  interest  of  a 
boy  in  a  strange  city,  took  note  of  everything  in  his 
new  surroundings,  the  uncle  maintained  silence  till, 
at  a  signal  from  him,  the  car  stopped  at  a  street- 
crossing. 

'Here  we  are,  Tom;  jump  off,  and  we'll  be  just 
in  time  for  supper." 

Walking  to  an  adjoining  square,  Mr.  Meadow 
pointed  to  a  cheerful  two-story  building. 

'*  Is  that  your  house,  uncle  ? ' 
'  That's  where  I  board ;  all  the  rooms  in  the  upper 
floor  are  mine." 

As  Mr.  Meadow  had  remarked,  they  were  in  time 
for  supper,  at  which  meal,  owing  to  the  fact  that 
two  young  ladies  with  their  father  and  mother  were 
present,  Tom  was  content  to  eat  little,  and  contrib- 
ute his  share  to  the  conversation  by  an  occasional 
:'  yes'm  "  and  "  no,  mem,"  which,  as  he  directed  either 
reply  indiscriminately  to  either  sex,  did  not  serve  to 
set  him  at  his  ease,  though  it  sent  the  young  ladies 
into  a  series  of  giggles,  till  Tom,  through  sheer  force 
of  indignation,  recovered  both  tongue  and  appetite,  to 
the  admiration  of  all  present. 

After  supper,  Mr.  Meadow  proposed  the  theatre. 
Tom  was  delighted  with  the  suggestion,  and  an  hour 
later  both  were  seated  in  the  pit  of  a  close  building, 
waiting  for  the  curtain  to  rise. 

Tom,  it  must  be  confessed,  was  somewhat  aston- 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  133 

ished  at  his  surroundings.  The  audience  failed  to 
impress  him  favorably ;  and  the  sight  of  waiters  hurry- 
ing about  with  their  trays  did  not  suit  his  ideas  at  all. 

"  Is  this  a  first-class  theatre,  uncle  ? ' 

'Yes;  that  is,  it's  a  first-class  variety.  Would  you 
like  a  glass  of  beer  or  soda  before  the  show  begins  ? ' 

"  Naw, "  said  Tom,  his  disgust  entering  into  and 
distorting  his  pronunciation:  and  he  wished  at  that 
moment  that  he  were  back  at  St.  Maure's. 

The  curtain  presently  lifted,  and  for  an  hour  or 
so  he  tried  to  enjoy  jigs,  comic  songs,  and  what  was 
announced  on  the  program  as  a  ;< screaming  farce." 
But  he  found  it  weary  work  keeping  amused.  The 
atmosphere,  too,  soon  gave  him  a  headache.  Mr. 
Meadow  seemed  to  be  perfectly  happy.  Tom  glanced 
at  him  curiously. 

"I'm  glad  I'm  not  made  that  way,"  he  thought. 
"If  this  whole  business  isn't  what  Mr.  Middleton 
calls  unhealthy,  then  I'm  pretty  stupid.  It's  coarse 
and  vulgar." 

"Say,  uncle,"  he  resumed  aloud,  as  the  curtain 
fell  upon  the  ;<  screaming  farce  " — screaming  actors 
would  be  truer — "I'm  getting  a  headache,  and,  if 
you've  no  objection,  I'll  go  outside  and  take  a  breath 
of  fresh  air  for  a  while." 

Now,  Mr.  Meadow  was  very  dry,  and  desirous 
also  of  conversing  between  the  acts  with  a  few 
young  men,  whom  he  did  not  purpose  introducing  to 
Tom.  So  he  caught  eagerly  at  the  opportunity. 

;'  Certainly,  Tommy.  Here's  a  dollar  to  buy  some 
candy.  Don't  go  far;  and  come  back  soon." 

"All  right,  uncle." 

Tom  went  out;  as  the  next  chapter  will  show  he 
never  entered  the  theatre  again, 


134  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 


CHAPTER    XV. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  IS  LOST. 

was  at  last  free  to  follow  his  bent.  From 
1  the  moment  he  had  left  St.  Maure's  to  the  pres- 
ent he  had  had  "  no  fun,"  to  use  his  own  expression. 

Now  that  he  was  rid  of  Mr.  Meadow,  he  was  deter- 
mined to  make  the  best  of  the  opportunity.  Nor  did 
the  question  of  ways  and  means  trouble  him.  In  the 
matter  of  amusement  Tom,  like  every  well-consti- 
tuted small  boy,  was  of  unfailing  resource. 

"Say,"  he  began  to  the  ticket-seller,  a  I'm  going 
out:  how' 11  I  get  back?  " 

"You  can  take  a  carriage,"  said  the  facetious 
ticket-seller,  "if  you  don't  care  about  walking." 

Tom  returned  his  grin. 

"Imeanhow'll  I  get  back  without  paying  over 
again  ? ' 

"Oh,  here's  a  check,  Johnnie.  How  are  you  en- 
joying the  performance  ? ' 

"It's  made  me  glad  to  get  out,"  and  without 
waiting  for  the  ticket-seller's  retort,  Tom,  satisfied 
that  he  had  squared  accounts,  sallied  forth  into  the 
night,  and  cast  his  eyes  about  in  search  of  a  confec- 
tionery. 

The  street  was  brilliant  with  electric  lights.  Every 
variety  of  store  seemed  to  be  in  the  neighborhood 
of  the  theatre.  Two  saloons  across  the  way  sand- 
wiched between  them  an  oyster-house ;  and  stretch- 
ing to  either  side  were  shops  of  many  kinds,  all  open 
all  seemingly  driving  a  busy  trade. 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  135 

Tom  took  a  long  look  at  the  saloons.  He  was 
impressed,  not  favorably  indeed,  with  the  number  of 
men  in  each. 

"Pshaw!'  he  muttered.  '  It  makes  me  feel  like 
taking  the  pledge  for  life." 

He  had  scarcely  made  this  reflection  when  his 
attention  was  arrested  by  the  sight  of  a  small  boy, 
who,  with  a  bundle  of  papers  under  his  arm,  passed 
one  of  the  saloons,  and,  pausing  in  front  of  the  oys- 
ter-house, stood  gazing  in  through  the  large  show- 
glass. 

Tom  was  growing  lonesome.  With  a  hop  and  a 
bound  he  crossed  the  street,  and  noiselessly  placed 
himself  behind  the  newsboy. 

The  object  of  his  attention  was  a  lad  of  little  more 
than  eleven.  He  was  neatly  but  scantily  attired. 
The  sleeves  of  his  jacket  and  knees  of  his  knicker- 
bockers were  patched,  and  his  shoes  were  open  at 
the  toes.  The  face  was  quite  beautiful,  beautiful 
with  some  hint  of  refinement,  all  the  more  beautiful, 
perhaps,  that  it  was  touched  and  softened  by  sad- 
ness. But  the  eyes — large  and  black — how  eagerly 
they  looked  into  that  window! 

Tom  was  satisfied  with  the  inspection.  He  put 
himself  alongside  the  newsboy,  and  set  to  staring  in 
himself. 

"  Paper,  sir  ?  "  said  the  boy. 

"  What  paper  ?  " 

"  Post  or  Times-Star:' 

"  How  much  ?  " 

"  Two  cents  for  the  Star,  sir,  and  one  cent  for  the 
Post,  sir." 

"You  needn't  talk  to  me  as  if  I  was  your  father," 
said  Tom.  "  I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do,  Johnnie:  I'll 


136  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

take  a  copy  of  each  and  give  you  a  dime  for  'em  if 
you'll  tell  me  your  name." 

"Thank  you,  sir:  my  name's  Arthur  Vane,"  and 
Arthur  received  Tom's  ten-cent  piece  with  unmistak- 
able signs  of  gratitude. 

"And  my  name's  Tom  Playfair;  just  drop  that 
'sir,'  and  call  me  Tom.  I'm  glad  to  meet  a  fellow 
my  own  size.  I  haven't  talked  to  a  boy  for  three 
days ;  and  grown  people  are  so  tiresome !  ' 

Arthur  here  smiled,  and  the  twinkle  in  his  eye 
evinced  that  for  all  his  sadness  he  was  naturally  a 
merry  lad. 

"I  think,"  he  put  in,  "that  it  might  be  better  if 
you  could  get  boys  of  your  own  class  in  life  to  talk 
with  you." 

"Just  listen  to  him,"  said  Tom,  apostrophizing  the 
oyster  shop,  "  talking  to  me  as  if  I  wasn't  an  Ameri- 
can— why,  Arthur,  I'm  a  Democrat." 

"But  your  mother  and  father  mightn't  like  it," 
said  Arthur,  very  much  astonished  with  his  new  ac- 
quaintance. 

"My  father's  in  St.  Louis,"  answered  Tom,  "and 
my  mother's  in  heaven.  And  what's  more,  you're 
just  as  well  up  in  talk  as  most  boys  of  your  size ;  and 
it's  my  opinion  that  you  haven't  been  on  the  streets 
very  long,  either.  I  took  a  good  look  at  you  before 
I  came  up,  and  I'll  bet  anything  you're  not  used  to 
taking  care  of  yourself." 

'You're  right,  Tom:  I've  been  supporting  myself 
and  little  sister  for  only  two  months.  Papa  died 
when  he  came  here,  and  left  us  only  a  little  money." 

"A  little  sister,  too!  " 

*  Yes,  Tom ;  poor  little  Kate  has  be.en  very  sick, 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  137 


but  now  she's  almost  well.     She's  in  charge  of 
kind  sisters." 

Instead  of  continuing  the  conversation,  Tom  caught 
Arthur  by  the  shoulders  and  bending  down  stared 
straight  into  his  eyes. 

''See  here,"  he  began  after  a  pause.  "Can  you 
remember  the  last  time  you  got  a  square  meal  ?  ' 

The  lustrous-eyed  boy  with  the  pale,  thin  face 
smiled  again. 

'  I  had  a  pretty  good  meal  yesterday.  But  to-day 
I've  had  hard  luck.  This  morning  I  was  stuck." 

;<  On  the  Latin  verb  or  a  pitchfork,  or  what  ?  " 
queried  Tom. 

Arthur  laughed  again. 

"  That's  a  newsboy's  term,  Tom:  we're  'stuck' 
when  we  buy  papers  and  have  a  lot  left  unsold." 

"Oh,  that's  it.  So  you  didn't  get  a  square  meal 
to-day  ?  "  ' 

'  I  had  a  plate  of  soup  and  two  pieces  of  bread  at 
noon." 

"  How  much  ?  '    asked  Tom. 

"Six  cents." 

"Whew!  think  of  a  little  boy  going  around  with 
six-cents'  worth  of  provisions  —  say,  Arthur,  do  you 
like  oysters  ?  ' 

"  Oh,  don't  I  ?  "  exclaimed  Arthur  with  enthusiasm. 

"  I  thought  you  meant  something  by  looking  in 
through  that  window.  It's  the  same  way  with  me," 
continued  Tom,  gravely.  '  I'm  uncommonly  fond  of 
oysters  myself,  and  so  are  all  my  friends.  Now  I'll 
treat.  You  go  right  in,  and  order  all  you  want, 
Here's  a  dollar.  Is  that  enough  ?  ' 

"  I'd  like  to  take  it,"  said  Arthur,  looking  wistfully 
at  the  money,  "But  I  can't.  It  isn't  fair/1 


138  TOM  PL  A  YF AIR. 

"But  it  is  fair,"  answered  Tom.  "You're  worth 
a  dollar  to  me,  and  more.  O  Arthur,  you  don't 
know  how  tired  I  am  of  hearing  grown  folks  talking 
about  elections  and  stocks  and  bonds.  That's  all 
I've  been  listening  to  for  three  days.  It's  terrible. 
It  got  so  bad  that  I  felt  like  praying  never  to  grow 
up." 

After  further  words,  Arthur  consented  to  take  fifty 
cents.  He  was  about  to  enter  the  oyster-house,  when 
Tom  snatched  his  bundle  of  papers. 

'  What  are  you  up  to  now,  Tom  ? " 

'I'll  keep  the  business  going  at  the  old  stand: 
while  you're  eating  I'll  sell."  And  without  waiting 
for  remonstrance,  Tom  darted  away. 

'Here  you  are,"  he  shouted,  putting  in  his  head 
at  the  saloon  to  his  right;  "all  the  evening  papers 
with  all  the  news  about  the  elections  and  stocks  and 
bonds." 

"Elections!  where?"  exclaimed  a  portly  gentle- 
man, holding  a  glass  in  suspense. 

'  Don't  know,  sir.  There's  always  news  about 
elections  in  the  paper." 

The  gentleman  smiled,  and,  joining  in  the  laugh  at 
his  expense,  bought  a  paper,  and  insisted  on  several 
of  his  companions  following  his  example. 

Tom,  richer  by  fifteen  cents,  repaired  to  the  next 
saloon.  Here  he  made  the  same  announcement,  and 
was  sternly  ordered  out  by  a  barkeeper  all  bang  and 
jewelry. 

Nothing  daunted,  he  took  a  position  at  the  nearest 
street  corner,  and  exerted  his  eloquence  on  every 
passer-by.  But  he  found  this  slow  work.  Five  min- 
utes passed,  and  he  had  disposed  of  but  one  more 
paper 


TOM  PLA  YFA IR.  139 

'I  didn't  get  a  fair  chance  in  that  saloon,"  he 
murmured.  "I  think  I'll  try  it  again." 

He  peered  in  cautiously  this  time,  and,  when  the 
barkeeper's  back  was  turned,  rushed  in. 

'  Last  chance,  gentlemen.  Here  are  all  the  even- 
ing papers  complete  and  unabridged." 

The  ^irkeeper,  with  an  ugly  word,  sprang  over 
the  counter  and  made  a  rush  at  him. 

Tom  stood  his  ground,  looking  the  enraged  atten- 
dant squarely  in  the  face. 

"  Which  paper  do  you  want,  sir  ?  Times-Star  or 
Post?" 

'Get  out  of  here,  you  beggar,"  cried  the  bar- 
keeper, pausing  suddenly  as  he  saw  that  Tom  did 
not  take  to  flight. 

'  You  needn't  call  names:  I'm  not  a  beggar.  I'm 
selling  these  newspapers  for  a  little  fellow  who's  half- 
starved." 

The  barkeeper  glanced  around  and  perceived  at 
once  that  the  popular  sympathy  was  against  him. 

:'  Give  me  a  Star,  Johnny,"  he  said,  and  presently 
every  man  in  the  room  was  buying  a  paper.  Tom's 
pluck  had  caught  their  fancy,  while  his  declaration 
had  touched  their  hearts.  In  a  few  moments  he  had 
disposed  of  his  stock,  and  resisting  several  offers  to 
'take  a  drink,"  hurried  away  to  rejoin  Arthur. 

He  found  his  little  friend  seated  alone  at  a  large 
table  with  a  plate  of  fried  oysters  before  him. 

:<  I'm  hungry  myself,"  observed  Tom,  helping  him- 
self liberally  to  Arthur's  dish.  "  Order  a  dozen  more, 
Arthur,  and  I'll  help  you  eat  them." 

*  Where  are  the  papers  ? '    inquired  Arthur. 

'Sold — every  one  of  'em.  I  didn't  have  a  bit  of 
trouble,  though  I  thought  that  the  big  barkeeper 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

next   door  would  murder  me.     But   he  didn't:    he 

bought  a  paper,  and  ended  by  asking  me  to  take  a 

drink." 

'You  don't  mean  to  say  that  you  got  Clennam  to 

buy  a  paper — the  fellow  to  our  right  ?  " 

'But  I  did,  though;  and  I  sold  over  fifteen  papers 

in  his  saloon." 

'  Well,  you're  the  funniest  boy  I  ever  met.     There's 

not  a  newsboy  in  the  city  dares  go  into  his  saloon. 

They're  afraid  of  him  awfully." 

•'  I  was  afraid,  too,"  said  Tom.     "  But  when  I  saw 

him  rushing  at  me,  I  just  braced  myself  up  to  see 

what  he'd  do." 

'Tom,  I'd  like  to  live  with  you  all  the  time." 
'Glad  you   like  me,  Arthur.     Go  on  and  order 

more  oysters." 

'Thank  you,  I've  had  enough." 

'*  So've  I.     How  are  you  on  ice-cream  ?  " 

'Let  me  treat   this  time,  Tom.     There's  a  nice 

confectionery  right  around  the  corner." 

In  this  realistic  age  one  must  be  careful  not  to  tell 

the  whole  truth,  lest  one  be  convicted  of  exaggera- 
tion.    So  I  pass  lightly  over  the  astonishing  feats  of 

Tom  and  Arthur  in  the  ice-cream  parlor. 

As  Tom  paid  the  bill  he  glanced  at  the  clock  over 

the  counter.  It  wanted  twenty-five  minutes  to  twelve. 
;'  Arthur,  I  forgot  all  about  him.  Oh,  gracious!  " 
"Who!" 

*  My  uncle.    I  left  him  across  there  in  the  theatre. " 
1  Why,  the  theatre  let  out  half  an  hour  ago." 
'Then,  Arthur,  I'll  tell  you  a  secret." 
'What,  Tom?'    cried  Arthur  breathlessly,  for  he 

was  impressed  with  his  companion's  grave  face. 
"I'm  lost" 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  141 

"  Don't  you  know  where  you  live  ? ' 

'No;  don't  even  know  the  name  of  the  street. 
Uncle  Meadow  will  be  the  maddest  man  in  Cincin- 
nati. The  fact  is,  we  were  having  such  a  jolly  good 
time  that  I  forgot  all  about  him." 

'Well,  you're  the  queerest  boy  I  ever  met." 

'I  don't  see  anything  queer  about  it.  I'm  lost, 
And  you've  got  to  take  care  of  me.  That's  all." 

Arthur  laughed  musically;  looking  upon  him  now 
one  would  hardly  recognize  the  sad-eyed  boy  of  the 
previous  hour. 

'  It's  so  funny,  Tom,  to  hear  you  talking  of  being 
taken  care  of  by  me." 

'Where  do  you  sleep  nights  ? '    continued  Tom. 

'I  haven't  any  regular  place  since  we  gave  up 
housekeeping." 

'  Halloa!  who  gave  up  housekeeping  ?  " 

"  My  little  sister  and  I.  Till  she  got  sick,  we  had 
two  little  bits  of  rooms  in  'Noah's  Ark.'  " 

"  Noah's  Ark!  "  ejaculated  Tom. 

"That's  what  the  St.  Xavier  College  boys  call  it. 
It's  a  great  big  tenement-house  right  across  the  alley 
from  the  college;  and  in  fact  it  does  look  something 
like  an  ark.  Well,  little  Kate  and  I  were  there  and 
happy  as  larks.  She  was  just  the  best  sister,  and 
kept  the  rooms  so  bright  and  cheerful  that  I  used  to 
be  so  glad  to  come  home  after  looking  around  alt 
day  for  work!  She  could  cook  and  sew  like  a  grown 
person,  although  she's  only  nine." 

Who  paid  for  you  ? '    broke  in  Tom. 
Well,  in  the  beginning  we  had  a  little  over  twelve 
dollars  left  by  poor  papa.     But  after  two  weeks  we 
had  hardly  anything  left.     Then  I  had  to  go  to  sell- 
ing papers  and    taking  up   ail   kinds   of  odd  jobs. 


«( 
<i 


142  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

And  in  spite  of  all,  I  could  hardly  scrape  up  enough 
money  to  pay  the  rent.  After  a  while  we  had  hard 
times  getting  anything  to  eat.  I  didn't  mind  so 
much  for  myself,  but  poor  little  Kate  kept  on  getting 
thinner  and  paler." 

"  Didn't  you  have  any  friends  ? ' 

"No,  Tom.     We  were  strangers  in  the  city." 

"Then  Kate  took  sick,  didn't  she  ?" 

"Yes,  Tom;  and  a  good  woman  who  lived  in  the 
tenement  got  the  sisters  to  take  care  of  her,  and 
now  she's  quite  well.  But  I  don't  know  what  to  do. 
I'm  not  able  to  support  myself;  and  I  can't  bear  to 
think  of  seeing  Kate  starving  right  under  my  eyes." 

They  were  standing  under  a  lamp-post  during  this 
conversation  and  Tom  could  observe  the  signs  of 
tears  upon  his  little  friend's  face. 

"  Well,"  said  Tom,  choking  down  his  own  emotion, 
"  we'll  hold  a  council  of  war  to-night  before  we  go  to 
sleep.  Do  you  know  any  good  hotel  around  here  ? ' 

"There's  a  place  across  the  street,  the  European 
Hotel." 

Tom  glanced  at  the  building  disdainfully.  'No; 
we  want  something  first-class.  We'll  put  up  at  the 
best  hotel  you  know  of." 

"The  Burnet  House  is  about  foursquares  away." 

"That  sounds  better." 

I  think  Tom  succeeded  in  astonishing  more  people 
on  that  eventful  night  than,  within  the  same  period 
of  time,  any  boy  that  ever  came  to  Cincinnati. 

On  the  register  of  the  Burnet  House  he  wrote  in 
a  large,  bold  hand: 

"Thomas  Playfair,  travelling  student,"  and  he 
gravely  added  to  Arthur's  signature  "merchant." 

4  We   want  a  first-class  room,    and  breakfast  at 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  143 

seven,"  said  Tom  to  the  clerk,  who  had  become  un- 
usually wide-awake. 

"  Four  dollars  in  advance  for  the  rooms,  sir,"  said 
that  functionary. 

"I  didn't  say  rooms.  We're  not  accompanied 
by  our  families.  Here's  a  dollar  for  one  room." 

"Two  dollars,  sir,"  said  the  clerk,  now  as  thor- 
oughly wide-awake  as  he  had  ever  been  in  his  life. 

"  There's  the  other  dollar ;  you  needn't  mind  about 
sending  up  shaving  water  in  the  morning." 

The  clerk  laughed,  and  summoning  a  bell-boy, 
directed  him  to  show  the  "  gentlemen  "  number  eight, 
second  floor.  Hotel  clerks  are  men  of  large  experi- 
ence in  certain  directions;  hence,  notwithstanding 
the  late  hour,  and  the  fact  that  the  guests  were 
boys  without  luggage,  the  aroused  official  was  so 
taken  with  the  honest  little  faces  before  him  that 
he  allowed  them  the  privileges  of  the  house  without 
further  investigation. 

I  am  bound  to  say,  though,  that  our  two  friends 
availed  themselves  of  a  privilege  not  ordinarily  ac- 
corded to  travellers. 

No  sooner  had  the  bell  boy  left  them  in  possession 
of  their  room  than  Tom  picked  up  a  pillow  from  the 
bed  and  proposed  a  game  of  'catch."  Stationing 
themselves  at  opposite  corners,  the  two  tossed  the 
pillow  gently  at  first,  till,  growing  interested  in  their 
work,  they  threw  with  not  a  little  energy.  As  an 
agreeable  variety,  Tom  got  the  other  pillow,  and 
before  long  they  came  to  a  genuine  pillow-fight, 
hurling  their  downy  missiles,  and  dodging  about  in 
a  manner  that  sent  the  blood  to  their  cheeks  and 
caused  their  eyes  to  dance  with  excitement.  The 
boy  who  has  no  heart  for  pillow-fighting  is  fit  for 


144  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

treasons,  stratagems,  and  spoils ;  let  no  such  boy  be 
trusted. 

The  contest  waxed  fiercer — that  is,  merrier — each 
moment.  Finally,  Tom,  pillow  in  hand,  charged  upon 
Arthur.  There  was  a  rapid  interchange  of  blows, 
much  movement  and  noise  of  little  feet,  and  a  sway- 
ing from  side  to  side  of  the  room,  till  at  length 
with  a  well-directed  blow  Tom  sent  his  antagonist 
sprawling  upon  the  bed. 

It  was  then  they  noticed  for  the  first  time  that  some 
one  was  gently  knocking  at  the  door. 

"  Oh ! '  said  Arthur,  turning  pale,  "  we're  in  for  it 
now." 

Tom  threw  the  door  open  and  found  himself  facing 
a  mild-eyed  old  gentleman,  who  seemed  to  be  far 
more  frightened  than  Arthur. 

"  Good  evening,  sir.     Won't  you  walk  in  ?  " 

'"  I  beg  your  pardon,  young  sir;  but  I  thought  there 
was  a  murder  or  something  going  on  in  this  room. 
I  live  next  door,  and  I  was  awakened  a  few  minutes 
ago  by  a  noise  as  of  people  struggling  for  life." 

"It  wasn't  that  bad,  sir.  There  was  a  struggle; 
but  it  wasn't  for  life.  My  friend  over  there  on  the 
bed,"  added  Tom,  wickedly,  "is  very  noisy." 

The  old  gentleman  now  understood  the  situation; 
the  light  that  shot  from  his  eye  and  the  smile  that 
curled  about  his  lips  evinced  that  he  too  had  been  a 
boy  in  the  golden  long  ago. 

"  Well,  young  sir,  may  I  ask  you  as  a  favor  not  to 
make  any  more  noise  to-night  ?  We  old  people  can't 
afford  to  lose  our  sleep." 

"Certainly,  sir;  honest,  I  didn't  think  about  wak- 
ing people  up.  I'll  behave  till  morning,  sir;  good- 
.night." 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  145 

"  Good-night,  young  sir,"  answered  the  gentleman 
smiling  benevolently,  '''and  God  bless  you! ' 

"  What  a  pity, "  said  Tom  as  the  door  closed,  "  that 
he's  grown  up!  He  must  have  been  a  jolly  boy." 

"Yes,  indeed,"  assented  Arthur. 

"  It's  the  old  story,  Arthur;  folks  get  spoiled  once 
they  grow  up.  They  haven't  right  ideas  about  fun. 
Now,  if  that  old  gentleman  had  been  a  boy,  he'd  have 
come  rushing  in  with  his  pillow." 

uYes, "  assented  Arthur;  "and  if  all  the  people  in 
the  hotel  had  been  boys,  they'd  all  have  rushed  in 
with  their  pillows." 

"  Just  so ;  and  we'd  have  had  a  gorgeous  time.  It's 
a  mistake  for  people  to  live  long.  It  seems  to  me  if 
a  boy's  good,  the  best  thing  he  can  do  is  to  die  when 
he's  sixteen  or  seventeen.  Of  course,  if  he's  a  sin- 
ner, it's  right  for  him  to  live  and  take  his  punish- 
ment like  a  man." 

"  Where  did  you  get  that  idea,  Tom  ? " 

"I  don't  know,  but  I've  thought  about  it  lots  the 
last  few  days.  You  see,  if  a  boy  doesn't  do  any- 
thing real  bad,  he's  bound  to  be  pretty  happy;  then 
he  dies  and  goes  to  heaven,  where  there's  just  no  end 
of  fun,  and  gets  saved  hearing  all  that  stuff  about 
elections  and  stocks  and  bonds." 

"Some  boys  have  awful  troubles,  Tom." 

"  Well,  the  sooner  they  get  to  heaven  the  better. 
Just  the  same,  I'm  not  anxious  to  die  yet.  I  want 
to  make  my  First  Communion.  There  were  two 
friends  of  mine,  Arthur,  struck  down  dead;  but  it 
was  on  the  First  Friday  and  both  were  speaking 
about  having  gone  to  Communion  that  very  day. 
They're  all  right.  Come,  let's  say  our  prayers,  and 
then  when  we  get  to  bed  I'll  tell  you  all  about  it." 

JO 


146  TOM  PLA  YPA1R. 

And  before  these  two  lads  went  to  sleep,  they  had 
built  in  the  intimacy  of  an  hour  a  friendship  which 
we  older  folk  find  to  be  the  work  of  many  years. 


CHAPTER   XVI. 

IN  WHICH  TOM  ENTERS   UPON  A    CAREER   OF  EXTRAVA- 
GANCE. 

WHEN  Arthur  awoke  next  morning,  he  stared  in 
no  little  surprise  at  Tom,  who  was  standing 
before  a  mirror  and  surveying  himself  with  evident 
complacency. 

'  Why,  Tom ! '  he  called  out,  "  are  you  a  real  boy  ? 
or  is  the  whole  thing  a  dream  ? " 

"  Yes, "  answered  Tom,  with  his  customary  modesty, 
'  it's  a  sure  thing  that  I'm  a  real  boy.  What  are  you 
staring  at  ? ' 

"But  you've  got  my  clothes  on." 

'  Yes ;  don't  I  look  fine  in  them  ?  " 

'  You'd  look  well  in  anything,  Tom.  But  in  the 
mean  time,  how  am  I  to  dress  ? ' 

'  Take  mine,"  came  the  sententious  answer,  as  Tom 
turned  his  back  to  the  mirror  and  craned  his  neck 
in  a  vain  effort  to  see  how  he  looked  from  that  point 
of  view. 

"  No,  I  won't,  Tom;  you've  been  too  good  to  me 
already.  I'll  not  take  another  thing  from  you." 

"All  right;  if  you  don't  put  those  clothes  on, 
you'll  have  to  stay  in  bed  for  a  while.  I'm  going  to 
leave  in  about  ten  minutes." 

'*  I  won't  put  them  on." 

'You've  got  to.  See  here,  didn't  you  tell  me  last 
night  that  you'd  take  my  advice  ? " 


TOM  PLA  YFA1R.  147 

"Yes;  but  then  you  know " 

'  Never  mind  the  rest.  My  first  advice  is  to  put 
on  those  togs  of  mine.  They're  a  pretty  good  suit; 
but  I've  another  suit  along  with  me  that's  just  as 
good." 

Tom,  as  usual,  had  his  way,  and  waxed  enthusias- 
tic over  his  new  friend's  appearance. 

"My!  Arthur,  but  you  look  splendid.  You  see, 
you're  rather  skinny,  and  your  own  suit  made  it  plain 
to  everybody.  Now  you  look  like  a  young  swell." 

Indeed,  Arthur's  appearance  had  really  improved. 
Even  his  face  had  changed  for  the  better.  The  eyes 
shone  with  a  joyous  twinkle;  the  lines  of  misery  and 
distress  had  softened;  the  refinement  and  delicacy 
of  expression  were  now  quite  noticeable. 

Two  months  upon  the  streets!  Who  would  believe 
it  of  that  gentle  boy  ?  Doubtless  Arthur's  guardian 
angel  could  have  explained  the  mystery,  and  into 
that  explanation  would  have  largely  entered  the 
sweet  prayers  and  tender  sympathy  and  elevating 
influence  of  a  dear  little  sister's  love. 

Tom  did  not  hear  any  guardian  angel  say  this,  but 
it  came  home  to  him,  ail  the  same,  as  he  gazed  upon 
Arthur,  who  \vas  blushing  under  his  scrutiny. 

;<  Arthur,"  he  added  aloud,  "I  want  your  sister  to 
see  you  in  good  form.  It  will  do  her  more  good 
than  all  the  quinine  and  paregoric  in  the  world,  when 
you  walk  in  on  her  the  way  you  are  now.  We'll  get 
breakfast  right  away,  and  then  you'll  bring  me  down 
to  the  depot,  so's  I  can  find  my  way  to  uncle's,  and 
we'll  shake  hands  for  a  while.  Then  to-morrow 
you'll  come  and  pay  me  a  visit." 

'That's  a  nice  plan,  Tom;  but  you  must  come 
and  see  my  sister  first." 


148  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

"  Me!  "  exclaimed  Tom,  shocked  into  the  objective 
case.  "Why  it  would  spoil  the  whole  plan.  There'd 
be  no  fun  at  all,  when  she'd  see  me  rigged  out  in 
your  clothes." 

"I'll  tell  her  anyhow,  even  if  you  don't  come., 
and  I'll  fetch  her  round  to  see  you,  too.  It's  my 
turn  now  to  have  my  way.  You've  got  to  come." 

"But  I  never  talk  to  girls.  I  don't  even  know 
how  it's  done." 

"Pshaw!  that's  nothing.  You  know  she's  almost 
a  baby." 

"  I  don't  like  babies,"  said  Tom,  growing  eloquent. 
"One  baby  looks  just  the  same  as  another;  and  if 
you  don't  say  a  baby  looks  just  like  its  pa,  its 
mamma  gets  mad.  Then  babies  don't  do  anything 
but  scream  and  eat.  They've  no  hair  and  no  teeth 
and  no  sense.  The  only  thing  good  about  a  baby  is 
that  it  doesn't  stay  that  way  forever.  It  grows  into 
something:  but  it's  tiresome  waiting." 

"  Kate  has  a  full  head  of  hair,  a  set  of  teeth,  and 
lots  of  sense  for  her  age.  Now,  Tom,  I'll  feel  really 
miserable  if  you  don't  come." 

Tom  sighed. 

"  She's  only  nine  ? '    he  inquired. 
Just  nine  a  few  months  ago." 
Well,  I'll  go,  Arthur." 

Then  Arthur  wrung  his  hand  and  so  beamed  over 
with  joy  that  Tom  became  fully  reconciled  to  what 
he  considered  the  coming  ordeal. 

And  an  ordeal  it  promised  to  be  from  the  very 
start.  For  when,  an  hour  later,  the  two,  having  fin- 
ished their  breakfast,  entered  the  hospital,  and  were 
walking  along  a  vast  corridor,  a  little  girl  with  stream- 
ing hair  and  shining  eyes  came  running  toward  them. 


u 

it 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  149 

:i  O  Arthur,"  she  cried,  dashing  straight  at  Tom, 
who  ducked  very  cleverly,  and  looked  as  sheepish  as 
it  was  possible  for  him  to  look,  while  the  girl  checked 
herself  and  sprang  back,  blushing,  and  Arthur  shook 
with  suppressed  laughter. 

" I— eh— eh— it's  the  other  fellow,  I  think," 
blurted  Tom. 

And  the  "  other  fellow  "  with  great  tact  put  an  end 
to  the  awkwardness  of  the  situation  by  catching  little 
sister  and  saluting  her  in  true  brotherly  fashion, 

;' And  now,  Katie,"  he  said  archly,  "let  me  intro- 
duce you  to  the  boy  you  were  throwing  yourself  at. 
He's  the  best " 

'Oh,  I  say,"  broke  in  Tom,  "you  needn't  begin 
that  way;  it's  bad  enough.  I'm  Tom  Playfair  and 
you're  Kate  Vane.  How  d'e  do,  Kate?'  And  Tom 
shook  hands  with  some  return  of  his  ordinary  cool- 
ness. 

"  O  Mr.  Playfair " 

'Tom,"  interpolated  the  young  gentleman  in 
patched  attire. 

'Tom,"  she  went  on,  accepting  the  correction; 
"but  I  really  thought  you  were  brother  Arthur." 

"Oh,  it's  all  right  now,"  said  Tom.  "I'm  not 
used  to  being  taken  for  a  brother.  You  see  I  never 
had  any  sisters;  and  that's  why  I  got  so  nervous." 

And  then,  despite  our  hero's  protests,  Arthur  in- 
sisted upon  describing  at  length  the  adventures  of 
the  preceding  night.  It  was  an  awkward  time  for 
Tom.  But,  as  he  sat  in  the  neatly-appointed  room 
into  which  Kate  had  conducted  them,  he  bore  it  with 
what  meekness  he  could  summon  for  the  occasion. 

The  little  child  who  faced  him  was  very  like  Arthur, 
with  a  beautiful  and  refined  face,  but  so  pale  and 


150  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

thin!  Sickness  had  stolen  the  rosy  hue  of  health, 
and  left  in  its  stead  a  pallor  upon  the  delicate  fea- 
tures; sickness  had  worn  away  the  rounded  cheeks 
till  the  face,  lighted  by  large,  beautiful  eyes,  was  such 
as  lofty-minded  artists  dream  and  ponder,  but  fail  to 
reproduce  as  angel  forms. 

'Tom,"  said  Kate,  when  Arthur  had  come  to  an 
end,  "  I  dreamed  last  night  that  St.  Joseph  was  going 
to  help  me  and  brother  Arthur." 

:<  She  carries  his  statue  in  her  pocket,"  whispered 
Arthur,  "and  prays  to  him  often." 

'*  I  wish  you'd  pray  to  him,  Kate,  to  get  me  out 
of  trouble.  I'm  lost — and  I  think  my  uncle  will 
make  it  pretty  hot  for  me.  He  gets  mad  so  easily! ' 

;<  My  dream  has  come  true,  like  in  a  fairy  book. 
Do  you  like  fairy  stories  ?  I  do.  And,  Arthur,  you 
look  so  well  now.  And  I've  got  some  good  news, too. " 

"What?"  cried  Arthur. 

"Guess." 

"A  situation  for  me." 

"Guess  again.     It's  a  letter." 

"Who  from?" 

"From  a  lady  in  Danesville. " 

"Danesville!  That's  where  our  uncle  Archer  used 
to  live." 

'  You're  getting  hot,  Arthur.  What  do  you  think 
it  says  ? " 

;<Come  on  and  tell  me." 

While  brother  and  sister  were  speaking,  Tom  drew 
a  railroad  time-table  from  his  pocket,  and  began 
running  his  eye  over  it. 

'*  It  says  that  Uncle  Archer  is  the  nicest  man,  and 
oh,  such  a  lot  of  things.  Here,  read  it,  Arthur." 
And  Kate  produced  a  letter. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  151 

'  Why,"  exclaimed  Arthur,  glancing  at  the  super- 
scription, "this  is  a  letter  to  Sister  Alexia. " 

"  You  didn't  guess  that.  Yes;  she  wrote  without 
saying  anything  to  me;  and,  and — why  don't  you 
read  it  ? " 

'  Listen,  Tom ;  you  know  our  story. 

"  DEAR  SISTER  ALEXIA: 

"  There  is  a  Mr.   Archer  in   Danesville — a  Mr.  F.   W. 
Archer." 

"There,  now!  He  isn't  in  California,"  exclaimed 
Kate,  her  eyes  dancing. 

'  He  is  in  comfortable  circumstances,  and  as  good  as  he  is 
wealthy.  Everybody  esteems  him.  He  is  now  past  middle  age, 
has  an  excellent  wife,  but  lost  his  two  beautiful  children,  a  boy  of 
three  and  another  of  five,  two  years  ago  on  a  trip  to  California. 
His  wife  is  a  very  sweet  woman  and  very  affectionate.  They  had 
intended  on  leaving  for  California  to  remain  there;  but  the  loss  of 
their  two  children  brought  them  back  to  Danesville.  Their 
residence  is  240  Lombard  St." 

"Why,  Kate,"  exclaimed  Arthur,  "this  is  news. 
It's  almost  too  good  to  be  true.  Danesville  is  in  this 
State,  and — and " 

"  Didn't  mamma  say  that  her  brother  was  the  best 
of  men?  "  broke  in  Kate.  "  And  now  we're  going  to 
see  him  soon." 

"Kate,  I'll  tell  you  a  secret.  When  papa  was 
dying,  he  told  me  to  take  you  to  our  uncle  in  Los 
Angeles.  But  after  the  funeral  we  didn't  have 
enough  money,  and  I  thought  it  awful  hard.  But 
now  it's  best  we  didn't  go.  I  never  told  you  papa's 
order." 

"Halloa!"  said  Tom.     "Here   we   are.     Danes- 
ville is  on  the  road  between  here  and  St.  Mary's— 
one  hundred  and  twenty  miles  from  Cincinnati." 


152  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

'  How  many  days  will  it  take  to  get  there  ? "  asked 
Kate,  eagerly. 

'Days!  You  don't  expect  to  go  there  by  street- 
car, do  you  ?  It  won't  take  more  than  six  hours,  and 
there's  a  train  starts  at  half-past  eleven  this  morn- 
ing." 

;'O  Arthur!'  And  Kate  clasped  her  hands  and 
looked  anxiously  at  her  brother. 

;  The  next  question,"  pursued  Tom,  "  is,  how  much 
have  you  two  got? ': 

'I've  fifteen  cents  and  a  quarter  with  a  hole  in 
it,"  answered  Kate. 

"And  I,"  said  her  brother,  "have  eighty-five 
cents." 

'Well,  I  happen  to  be  well  off  just  now,  and  I 
really  didn't  know  what  to  do  with  my  money.  Now, 
little  girl,  you  just  go  and  pack  up  your  clothes  and 
dolls  and  things  like  that;  and  if  you  don't  hurry 
up  about  it  you'll  miss  the  train." 

'Torn, "said  Arthur,  "how' 11  you  find  your  way 
to  your  uncle  ? ' 

;'Oh,  there'll  be  no  trouble  about  that.  Once  I 
get  to  the  depot  where  I  came  in,  I  can  easily  find 
my  way  to  the  street-car  uncle  took,  and  I  know  just 
where  he  got  off." 

'But,  Tom,  where' 11  I  write  to  you,  to  tell  you 
how  everything  turns  out  ?  " 

'  Send  your  letter  to  the  Burnet  House;  afterward 
I'll  send  you  my  address." 

In  due  time  preparations  for  departure  were  com- 
pleted. Tom  took  possession  of  Kate's  valise — it 
was  very  light;  witnessed  an  affecting  parting  scene 
between  the  nuns  and  the  little  girl;  and  before 
brother  and  sister  could  fairly  realize  what  a  change 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  153 

had  come  in  their  prospects,  he  had  made  arrange- 
ments for  their  tickets  and  seats  in  the  parlor  car, 
and  given  the  colored  porter  directions  concerning 
the  little  travellers  which  rather  astonished  that  func- 
tionary. 

Kate  and  Arthur  cried  on  bidding  their  protector 
good-bye,  and  our  generous  friend  experienced  a  dim- 
ness about  the  eyes  himself,  as  he  stood  at  the  pas- 
senger entrance  and  waved  his  hand  in  farewell. 

Tom  and  Arthur  were  not  to  meet  again  for  several 
years.  But  their  friendship  defied  separation.  Two 
days  later  Tom  received  a  letter  from  Arthur,  en- 
closing twenty-five  dollars,  and  giving  a  giOwing 
account  of  the  cordial  reception  accorded  them  by 
his  uncle.  With  this  letter  came  a  note  from  Mr. 
Archer  himself,  containing  such  warm  expressions  of 
gratitude  as  made  Tom  blush  at  every  line.  The 
correspondence  thus  begun  continued  for  years,  unti.1 
Tom  and  Arthur  met — well  that  belongs  to  another 
story. 

So  it  was  that  our  hero  left  the  depot  light  of 
pocket  and  light  of  heart.  He  had  but  one  dollar 
left  of  the  twenty-five  given  him  by  his  father.  He 
took  it  out  and  gazed  at  it. 

"Well,  I've  had  fifty  dollars'  worth  of  fun;  and 
now  I'll  go  and  buy  a  dinner,  and  after  that  I'll  go 
back  to  Uncle  Meadow ;  and  for  the  rest  of  my  stay 
here  I  reckon  I'll  have  to  be  poor  and  honest." 

With  a  sigh,  Tom  entered  an  oyster  parlor;  and 
when  he  came  forth  he  had  five  cents  left  for  car  fare. 


154  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 


CHAPTER   XVII. 

IN  WHICH  THE  PRODIGAL  RETURNS. 

IT  is  nigh  upon  four  of  the  afternoon.  Mr.  Meadow 
is  pacing  up  and  down  the  front  apartment  of 
his  suite  of  rooms,  taking  huge  strides,  occasionally 
striking  his  clenched  hands  upon  an  unoffensive  table 
bordering  the  line  of  his  route,  and  ever  and  anon 
stopping  to  glance  savagely  out  of  window.  Mr. 
Meadow  mutters  now  and  then  between  his  clenched 
teeth  words  which  are  mostly  profanity  and  severe 
criticisms  of  his  lost  nephew.  In  short,  Mr.  Meadow 
is  very  angry. 

'I'll  cowhide  the  wretched  little  brat  within  an 
inch  of  his  life  if  I  ever  get  my  hands  on  him. "  This 
remark,  with  the  adjectives  a  trifle  stronger  than 
here  set  down,  issued  from  his  lips  as  the  last  stroke 
of  four  came  ringing  through  the  air  from  a  neigh- 
boring church,  and  Mr.  Meadow  made  his  periodical 
pause  at  the  window  front. 

This  time  he  gave  a  sudden  gasp,  his  eyes  bulged 
from  his  head,  as  far  as  the  economy  of  his  bodily 
frame  would  allow,  and  he  did  stare. 

He  recovered  himself  by  a  strong  effort,  made  a 
remark  which  shall  not  be  repeated,  then  dashed 
down  the  stairway,  threw  the  front  door  open  with 
vicious  and  unnecessary  violence,  and 

Could  that  be  Tom  ?  The  figure  walking  up  the 
front  steps  looked  more  like  a  young  beggar,  and  a 
very  disreputable  young  beggar  at  that,  Arthur 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  155 

Vane  in  his  proper  costume  looked  like  a  gentleman 
in  comparison  with  Tom's  present  appearance.  Ar- 
thur's hat  on  Arthur's  head  had  at  least  been  in 
shape — on  Tom's  it  was  crushed  as  though  it  had 
been  used  as  a  substitute  for  a  football.  On  Arthur 
the  clothes,  though  patched,  had  been  neat;  on 
Tom  they  were  splashed  with  mud,  while  one  patch 
on  the  knee  was  torn,  and  a  deep  rent  under  the 
armpit  revealed  what  kind  of  a  shirt  Tom  was  wear- 
ing. But  the  wretchedness  of  his  appearance  did 
not  end  with  his  garb.  His  face  was  swollen  and 
discolored;  and  his  upper  lip  was  puffed  out  to  a 
ridiculous  degree.  Mr.  Meadow  had  seen  Tom  in 
many  a  sad  plight,  but  the  limit  was  reached  on  this 
occasion. 

"You  brat!  you  vulgar  little  beggar,"  roared  the 
uncle,  with  an  extra  adjective,  "come  right  in,  and 
I'll  lash  you  with  a  cowhide." 

Tom  paused  half  way  up  the  steps,  and  tried  to 
smile.  It  was  an  awful  failure.  Probably  he  was 
willing  enough  to  smile,  but  his  upper  lip,  the  most 
important  part  of  his  smiling  apparatus,  refused  to 
do  its  duty:  and  so  instead  of  smiling  he  succeeded 
in  distorting  his  face  still  more. 

"  Thanks,  uncle,"  he  made  answer.  "  But  I  guess 
I'll  not  come  in.  I've  been  walloped  enough." 

"  Have  you  been  fighting,  you  vulgar  little  gutter- 
snipe ? '  continued  the  enraged  uncle. 

'Yes,  uncle,"  answered  the  "  vulgar  little  gutter- 
snipe," backing  dow»n  a  few  steps  in  preparation  to 
take  to  his  heels  should  need  arise,  "but  I  couldn't 
help  it,  honest." 

"  Who  whipped  ?  " 

Mr.  Meadow  was  a  sporting  man;    his  weakness 


156  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

asserted    itself,  and    Tom    was   quick    to    see    his 
chance. 

"  See  here,  uncle,  if  you  promise  not  to  touch  me, 
I'll  tell  you  all  about  it." 

"  You  young  beggar,  what  did  you  do  with  your 
own  clothes  ? ' 

"Promise  not  to  whip  me,  uncle,  and  I'll  tell  you 
all  about  it." 

"  Were  you  robbed  ?  " 

"  No;  but  all  my  money's  gone,  seventeen  dollars 
and  a  half." 

"  Were  you  robbed  ?  " 

"Promise  not  to  whip  me,  uncle,  and  I'll  tell  you 
all  about  it.  It's  as  good  as  a  story." 

Mr.  Meadow  took  a  step  forward ;  Tom  as  quickly 
moved  down  to  the  foot  of  the  steps. 

"Stay  where  you  are,  uncle,  or  I'll  run." 

"Where  did  you  go  last  night  ?'  continued  Mr. 
Meadow,  less  savagely,  for  the  humor  of  the  situa- 
tion was  making  its  impression  even  upon  him. 

"Promise  not  to  whip  me,"  answered  Tom,  firmly. 

"  I'll  see  about  that  after  I've  heard  your  story." 

"  Honest,  uncle  ?  " 

"Yes,  honest." 

"  You  won't  whip  me  till  I  tell  my  story  ? " 

"  I  promise." 

"  Cross  your  heart,  uncle  ? " 

"Confound  you! — yes." 

"  All  right,  then."  And  Tom  ran  up  the  steps  with 
his  usual  spryness. 

4  Now,    uncle,    let   me   wash   first;    I    feel   awful 
sticky." 

Mr.  Meadow  deigned  to  supply  the  young  gentle- 
man with  a  basin  of  water.  Tom  threw  off  his  coat, 


TO M  PLA  YFA IR.  157 

rolled  back  his  shirt  sleeves,  and  kept  up  a  severe 
process  of  bathing  for  fifteen  minutes  without  saying 
a  single  word. 

'  Well,"  snapped  his  uncle,  impatiently,  "  who  won 
the  fight  ? "  . 

;t  Oh,  I've  got  to  change  my  clothes  yet.  These 
things  are  spoiled  from  Cincinnati  mud.  Wherever 
there  was  a  puddle,  I  was  sure  to  step  right  into  it. 
You  see,  uncle,  I  was  chased." 

"  Who  chased  you?  " 

'Two  dogs  and — oh,  wait  till  I  change." 

Mr.  Meadow  had  to  content  himself  for  the  next 
five  minutes  with  grinding  out  remarks  between  his 
teeth,  which,  through  a  sense  of  decency,  he  did  not 
wish  to  find  way  to  Tom's  ears. 

At  length  Tom  was  apparently  ready  for  his  re- 
cital. With  the  exception  of  his  face,  he  looked  like 
the  boy  of  yesterday  and  the  day  before. 

"Well,  now,  let's  hear  your  story." 

Tom  took  a  sponge  from  his  valise,  wet  it  and  put 
it  to  his  lip. 

"Ah!"  he  sighed  in  relief;  "that's  just  the  thing." 

"  Did  you  hear  me,  sir  ? ' 

"  Oh,  I  beg  your  pardon.     You  want  the  story  ?  " 

"That's  what  I  said." 

"  And  you  remember  your  promise,  uncle  ? " 

"Yes,  you  brat!" 

"You  needn't  call  names.  Well,  uncle,  I'm  not 
going  to  tell  you  my  story;  then  you  can't  whip  me." 
And  he  removed  his  sponge  and  smiled  hideously. 

Mr.  Meadow  bounded  from  his  chair;  Tom  made 
for  the  door. 

"Will  you  keep  your  promise  ?"  he  asked  with  his 
hand  on  the  knob. 


I58  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

'Yes;  come  in;  I'll  not  touch  you.  Go  ahead 
with  your  story:  I  promise  not  to  whip  you  in  any 
case." 

;'Ah!  that's  a  bargain.  You  know,  uncle,  papa 
doesn't  want  you  to  whip  me;  so  I  thought  it  was 

fair  to  get  ahead  of  you.     Well,  last  night "  and 

Tom  then  narrated  his  adventures  up  to  the  moment 
of  his  leaving  the  oyster-house  with  five  cents  for 
car  fare. 

"And  then,  uncle,"  he  contiuned,  "I  thought  how 
I  could  best  please  you." 

'What  exquisite  consideration,"  growled  the  au- 
ditor. 

'Wasn't  it,  uncle  ?  I  knew  you  wouldn't  like  me 
to  come  back  without  a  cent  in  my  pocket;  and  be- 
sides I  was  afraid  you  might  call  me  a  lot  of  names, 
and  lose  your  temper — and  you  did,  uncle.  You 
swore  dreadfully,  and  you  said " 

'  Go  on  with  your  story,"  growled  the  affectionate 
young  man.  'Tell  me  about  the  fight." 

"I'm  coming  to  it,  sir.  Well,  then,  I  started  to 
walk  home  along  the  street  where  those  cars  ran  that 
we  took  yesterday.  You  see,  uncle,  I'd  made  up  my 
mind  to  save  that  nickel." 

'You've  wonderful  ideas  of  economy,"  snarled 
Mr.  Meadow,  in  parentheses. 

4  Well,  when  I'd  walked  about  two  squares  I  came 
to  an  alley.  It  was  an  awful  rough-looking  place, 
uncle.  There  were  three  fellows  leaning  against  a 
house  on  the  alley  corner  when  I  came  along;  and 
before  I  knew  where  I  was,  they'd  got  on  the  out- 
side of  me,  and  shut  me  into  that  alley.  I  never 
saw  three  rougher-looking  boys  since  I  gave  up  going 
to  fires." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  159 

*'  And  did  you  knock  'em  all  down  ? " 

"Huh!!  The  wonder  is  they  didn't  knock  me 
down  first  thing.  The  middle  fellow  seemed  to  be 
the  ringleader.  He  was  the  smallest,  about  my  size. 
He  had  two  teeth  that  stuck  out  so's  you  could  count 
'em  without  trying.  They  were  his  higher  teeth." 

"Upper,  you  barbarian,"  corrected  Mr.  Meadow. 

"Exactly.  They  were  large  teeth;  larger  than 
yours,  uncle,  I  really  do " 

"Go  on,  will  you  ?" 

"  Why  don't  you  give  me  a  chance?  This  isn't 
a  grammar  class.  Well,  the  fellow  with  the  big  teeth 
said,  'Say,  gimme  chaw  terbacker. ' 

"And  did  you  hit  him  ?" 

Tom  looked  at  his  uncle  reproachfully. 

« 

*  Do  you  think  I'm  a  fool  ?  I  said  that  I  couldn't 
speak  French,  and  the  other  two  giggled.  Then  he 
looked  so  that  I  could  count  five  teeth,  and  said  in 
an  awful  savage  way — just  the  way  you  were  talk- 
ing to  me  a  minute  ago,  when " 

"  What  did  he  say  ? '    burst  in  the  excited  listener. 

"He  said  'Gimme  chaw  terbacker.'  And  then  he 
used  some  words  something  like  what  you " 

"  Go  on — what  did  you  do? ' 

"I  said,  'I  don't  talk  German  either,'  and  then 
before  I  could  guess  what  he  was  up  to  he  gave  me 
an  awful  whack  on  the  lip,  and  he  struck  out  again. 
I  dodged  the  second  blow,  and  I  got  so  excited  that 
like  a  fool  I  struck  back  with  all  my  might,  and  he 
went  sprawling.  I  struck  him  on  the  mouth,  uncle, 
and  when  he  got  up  he  was  spitting  and  coughing, 
and  I  could  only  count  one  tooth." 

"  And  what  did  you  do  then  ? ' 

"I  couldn't  do  anything,  uncle.      The  other  two 


160  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

grabbed  me  tight,  and  while  the  fellow  who  used  to 
have  a  loose  tooth  was  choking  and  hopping  round, 
and  swearing  whenever  he  could  get  his  breath,  the 
other  two  went  through  my  pockets  and  got  the  silk 
handkerchief  Aunt  Meadow  sent  me  on  my  birthday, 
a  small  magnet,  a  pocket-knife,  a  lot  of  string,  a 
broken  jew's-harp,  and  my  last  nickel." 
"  And  didn't  you  make  any  resistance  ? ' 
"  I  squirmed  and  wriggled  round,  and  when  they'd 
emptied  all  my  pockets,  I  ran  as  fast  as  I  could  till 
I  turned  the  corner.  And  then  I  began  to  feel  awful 
bad  about  that  nickel.  It  was  real  hard  to  have  to 
come  home  without  it,  so  I  turned  back  quietly,  and 
walked  into  a  drug-store  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
street.  I  sneaked  in  while  they  weren't  looking  that 
way.  The  drug-store  had  a  big  window  looking  out 
so's  you  could  see  into  that  alley  for  a  whole  block. 
I  told  the  drug-store  man  that  I  felt  sick,  and  that 
I'd  like  to  sit  down  in  his  store  for  a  while.  He 
laughed  when  he  looked  at  me,  and  said,  *  All-right. ' 
Then  I  pulled  a  chair  over  to  the  window,  and 
watched  those  three  fellows  for  over  fifteen  minutes. 
They  were  fussing  just  awfully  about  the  handker- 
chief. The  fellow  with  the  tooth  didn't  get  that. 
Then  they  had  a  row  about  the  knife,  and  the  fellow 
with  the  tooth  came  near  having  it  knocked  out  and 
he  didn't  get  the  knife  anyhow.  They  gave  him  the 
string  and  the  jew's-harp;  and  then  they  had  an  awful 
row  about  the  nickel.  They  tossed  it  up  and  yelled 
"Heads  '  and  'Tails,'  and  shouted,  and  I  don't  know 
what  all,  till  somehow  or  other  the  fellow  with  the 
tooth  got  that.  You  ought  to  have  seen  him.  He 
jumped  into  the  air  and  knocked  his  heels  together 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  161 

three  times,  and  started  out  of  the  alley,  just  as  proud 
as  though  he  were  a  millionaire." 

"  And  what  did  you  do  ? ' 

"  I  followed  after  him  quietly;  and  when  he'd  got 
off  about  a  square  from  the  alley  on  a  big  crowded 
street,  I  caught  up  with  him,  and  touched  him  on 
the  shoulder.  He  gave  a  little  jump,  but  he  didn't 
knock  his  heels  together  this  time.  *  See  here, '  I  said, 
'give  me  back  my  nickel  or  I'll  yell  for  a  policeman. ' 
He  put  on  a  savage  look,  and  said,  'Don't  yer  fool 
wid  me,  or  I'll  fetch  yer  one  on  de  ear,'  and  I  said, 
'If  you  do,  I'll  loosen  your  other  tooth,  and  yell  for 
the  policeman  too.  Now  hand  over,  or  I'll  shout.' 
He  looked  around,  and  sure  enough  there  was  a 
policeman  turning  the  corner.  He  got  pale,  and 
handed  over  that  nickel." 

"That  wasn't  bad,"  commented  Mr.  Meadow,  for- 
getting his  resolution  to  be  stern  and  uncompromising 
with  the  young  scapegrace.  '  Then,  of  course,  you 
started  to  find  your  way  back." 

"No,  uncle;  I  began  to  think  how  bad  Aunt 
Meadow  would  feel  when  she  learned  what  had  be- 
come of  her  pretty  Christmas  present,  and  how  bad 
you'd  feel  about  that  old  knife  which  you  gave  me 
the  time  you  bought  a  new  one." 

"Don't  be  sentimental,"  growled  Mr.  Meadow,  in 
disgust. 

Tom  stared. 

"  So  I  thought  I'd  go  back,  and  see  what  were  my 
chances  for  the  old  knife  and  the  pretty  handker- 
chief. When  I  got  there,  it  all  seemed  to  be  arranged 
just  the  way  I  wanted  it.  The  two  fellows  were 
squatting  down  on  a  board  about  twenty  feet  in  the 
alley,  playing  at  mumble-peg  with  my  knife;  and  the 
ii 


1 62  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR, 

fellow  who  was  farthest  had  my  nice  handkerchief 
flying  round  his  neck.  They  were  bigger  than  I; 
but  I  saw  a  good  chance.  I  didn't  stop  to  stare,  but 
came  running  up  softly  while  both  had  their  heads 
down  watching  their  game,  and  grabbed  that  hand- 
kerchief, and  kept  running  right  on  through  the  alley 
without  stopping  to  say  anything." 

'  Good! '  said  Mr.  Meadow,  unable  to  contain  his 
enthusiasm.  'Goon." 

'Well,  they  gave  a  yell,  and  before  I'd  got  half 
way  down  the  alley  there  was  a  rushing  out  of 
people  from  back  gates,  and  two  dogs  came  flying  at 
my  legs,  and  a  billy-goat  got  right  in  my  way  and 
would  have  broken  my  neck  if  I  hadn't  jumped  over 
him,  and  the  dogs  barked  and  snapped,  and  the  boys 
kept  yelling,  and  the  people  kept  crowding  out,  and 
just  as  I  got  to  the  corner  of  the  alley,  a  lot  of 
stones  and  things  came  sailing  after  me,  and  a  pebble 
or  something  hit  me  on  the  leg,  and  then  I  went  into 
an  awful  puddle,  and  came  plump  against  a  boy  with 
red  hair,  and  sent  him  sprawling." 

Here  Tom  lost  his  breath. 

'  I  don't  know  how  I  ever  got  out  of  that  alley 
alive.  The  last  thing  I  did  was  to  kick  a  bull-pup 
in  the  ribs;  he  howled  like  he  was  crazy,  and  then  I 
was  half  way  up  the  street.  I  looked  round  then, 
and  found  that  they  weren't  chasing  me.  Then  I 
got  off  some  of  the  mud  and  started  for  home.  And 
now,  uncle,  I'm  sorry  and  awful  hungry." 

And  Tom  looked  at  Mr.  Meadow  pathetically. 

"Hand  over  that  nickel,  young  man."  For  the 
first  time  since  his  return,  the  prodigal  lost  counte- 
nance. 

"I  haven't  got  it,  uncle." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  163 

"Oh,  you  spent  that  too." 

"No,  sir,  I — er — I  gave  it  away." 

Tom  had  become  very  nervous  and  awkward. 

"  Whom  did  you  give  it  to? ' 

No  answer. 

'  Did  you  hear  me  ? ' 

"  To  a  poor  fellow  I  met.  Come  on,  uncle,  and 
get  me  something  to  eat." 

Tom  did  not  reveal  the  whole  story;  there  was 
some  modesty  in  his  composition. 

When  the  "  boy  with  the  tooth '  had  surrendered 
the  nickel  to  its  proper  owner,  Tom  had  noticed  the 
sullen  face  of  the  poor  wretch  lengthen  in  disappoint- 
ment. In  a  flash  the  words  recorded  in  the  sole 
entry  in  his  diary,  "Vinegar  never  catches  flies,"  re- 
curred to  him.  He  ran  up  to  the  boy,  who,  with  his 
shoulders  raised  and  his  head  depressed,  was  creep- 
ing away,  and  touched  him  lightly  again. 

"Keep  off,"  cried  the  fellow,  with  a  snarl:  "you 
and  me's  quits." 

"No,  we're  not,"  said  Tom.  "Old  fellow,  you 
need  this  nickel  more  than  I  do,"  and  he  pressed  it 
into  the  lad's  hand.  "It's  all  I've  got  with  me; 
but  I  wish  it  was  more,  and  I'm  sorry  about  that 
tooth  of  yours." 

As  Tom  turned  away,  he  left  the  poor  little  wretch 
gasping,  mouth  and  eyes  wide  open,  and  the  little 
brain  within  pondering  over  the  only  sermon  that 
had  ever  came  home  to  it. 

Tom  walked  on,  light  of  heart  and  happy. 

"It  can't  do  him  any  harm,"  he  reflected,  u  and 
maybe  it'll  do  him  good." 

Then  some  one  touched  his  shoulder. 

"Say,"  exclaimed  the  toothless  one,  almost  out  of 


164  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

breath,  for  he  had  had  some  trouble  in  picking  Tom 
out  of  the  crowd,  "say,  Johnnie,  I'll  never  act  dat 
way  again — never.  Do  ye  catch  on  ? " 

It  was  in  order  for  Tom  to  improve  the  occasion 
by  saying  something  pious  and  edifying.  But  Tom 
didn't  follow  the  traditions  of  the  book.  He  merely 
grinned,  gave  his  penitent  a  hearty  hand-squeeze, 
and  said  not  one  word. 

This  part  of  the  story,  as  I  said,  he  concealed  from 
Mr.  Meadow.  But  that  gentleman  inferred  some- 
thing of  it,  and  was  so  pleased  with  his  inference 
that  he  gave  Tom  but  a  quarter  of  an  hour's  scold- 
ing which  he  salved  with  a  twenty-five-cent  piece 
and  a  good  dinner. 


CHAPTER   XVIII. 

IN  WHICH   TOM  ASTONISHES  AND  HORRIFIES  HIS  AUNT. 

IT  is  ten  of  the  night.  Tom  has  just  arisen  from 
his  knees,  and  seems  to  find  some  difficulty  in 
divesting  himself  of  his  sailor  shirt.  He  is  gazing 
very  hard  at  Mr.  Meadow  through  a  sort  of  lattice- 
work formed  by  the  bosom  of  his  shirt,  which  is  now 
concealing  his  little  head.  In  this  dramatic  attitude 
he  stands  till  Mr.  Meadow  gets  into  bed.  Then  Tom 
with  a  jerk  brings  the  shirt  back  to  its  normal  posi- 
tion on  his  shoulders,  and  says: 

"Uncle,  you've  forgot  something." 

"  What  ? " 

1  Why  you  forgot  to  kneel  down  before  going  to 
bed.  You  didn't  used  to  do  that  when  we  lived  in 
St.  Louis.  Hop  out  and  kneel  down." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  165 

"Mind  your  business,  young  man." 

In  answer  to  which  Tom  sat  down  on  a  chair  and 
began  to  whistle  softly. 

'Stop  that  noise  and  come  to  bed." 

Tom  ceased  his  whistling,  arose,  walked  over  to 
the  sofa,  and,  throwing  an  overcoat  about  himself, 
lay  back  with  his  eyes  fixed  upon  Mr.  Meadow's  as- 
tonished face. 

Then  there  was  a  long  pause,  during  which  the 
recumbent  uncle  and  nephew  looked  at  each  other 
steadily. 

"  What  are  you  staring  at  ?  "  growled  Mr.  Meadow, 
raising  his  head  and  leaning  upon  his  elbow. 

"I'm  taking  in  your  night-cap,  uncle.  It  makes 
you  look  so  funny." 

"  Get  off  that  sofa  and  come  to  bed." 

"Not  in  that  bed." 

"Why  not?" 

"You  didn't  say  your  prayers.  Suppose  the  Devil 
were  to  come  round  to-night:  he  might  get  things 
mixed  up,  and  take  me  for  you.  Then  there'd  be  a 
pretty  how-de-do." 

Tom  was  not  entirely  in  earnest,  but  he  spoke  with 
funereal  gravity. 

"If  you  don't  come  to  bed,  sir,  I'll  report  you  to 
your  father. " 

Tom  sighed.  Mr.  Meadow  had  hit  upon  the  best 
means  of  subduing  him.  He  arose  from  the  sofa, 
slowly  undressed,  then  going  to  his  valise  took  out  a 
bottle  containing  holy  water,  which  he  proceeded  to 
sprinkle  over  the  bed,  incidentally  dousing  the  aston- 
ished countenance  of  his  uncle. 

Then  with  another  sigh  he  retired.  He  intended 
to  sigh  for  a  third  time  once  he  had  composed  him- 


1 66  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

self  for  slumber,  but  he  fell  asleep  before  the  time 
came  for  carrying  out  this  pious  intention. 

Tom  was  unusually  docile  on  this  occasion.  But 
Mr.  Meadow's  threat  was  not  an  idle  one.  That 
very  day  a  telegram  had  reached  them,  announcing 
the  coming  on  the  morrow  of  Mr.  Playfair  and  Aunt 
Meadow.  The  one  person  in  the  world  whom  Tom 
feared  was  his  father;  and  he  still  remembeied,  viv- 
idly too,  their  painful  encounter,  touched  upon,  or 
rather  glossed  over,  in  Chapter  II. 

Next  morning,  accordingly,  Mr.  Playfair  and  Miss 
Meadow  arrived. 

Mr.  Playfair  unbent  so  far  as  to  give  his  little  boy 
a  paternal  kiss;  but  his  aunt's  greeting  was  so  warm 
as  to  disarrange  her  toilet  very  considerably.  Then 
holding  her  darling  nephew  at  arm's  length,  she 
anxiously  scanned  his  features. 

Tommy,   dear,"  she  exclaimed  at  length,  "you 
must  have  received  an  awful  shock." 

"No,  I  didn't,  aunt,  it  was  just  nothing  at  all.  I 
fell  down  all  of  a  heap,  and  picked  myself  up  as 
good  as  new." 

Tom  made  light  of  the  matter;  he  knew  his  aunt 
from  of  old,  and  he  had  no  intention  of  being  plied 
with  family  medicines  for  a  week. 

'  Roll  down  your  stocking,  Tommy,  I  must  see 
where  you've  been  burnt." 

'  Do  you  take  me  for  a  tattooed  man  ?  "  exclaimed 
the  young  gentleman  indignantly. 

'Pull  down  your  stocking,"  said  Mr.  Playfair. 

And  when  Tom  with  commendable  promptness 
exhibited  the  red  mark,  as  of  a  branding-iron,  upon 
his  calf,  Miss  Meadow  pulled  out  her  handkerchief 
and  began  to  cry.  Poor,  gentle  lady ! 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  167 

"Oh,  I  say,  Aunt  Jane,  don't,"  exclaimed  Tom, 
earnestly.  He  was  a  warm-hearted  little  fellow,  and 
under  a  boyish  mask  of  levity  concealed  the  great 
love  he  bore  his  aunt. 

In  answer  to  this  remonstrance,  she  threw  her  arms 
about  him  again,  and  renewed  the  kissing  and  hug- 
ging till  he  blushed  as  a  red,  red  rose. 

4  Why  doesn't  somebody  take  notice  of  me  that 
way  ? '  queried  Mr.  Meadow,  who  felt  that  he  was 
being  ignored. 

"  I  think  I'll  pull  up  my  stocking,"  said  Tom,  now 
really  embarrassed.  '  There's  no  use  in  making  such 
a  fuss  about  it.  People  that  cook  get  burnt  a  lot 
worse,  and  don't  say  a  word." 

"  Tommy,  dear,"  resumed  Miss  Meadow,  who,  hav- 
ing had  her  cry  out,  was  now,  after  the  manner  of 
her  sex,  thoroughly  renewed,  "you're  not  quite  well 
yet;  you've  lost  color." 

'Gracious!'  exclaimed  Tom,  turning  his  face  to 
a  looking-glass.  ;<  Aunt  calls  me  pale,  when  my  face 
looks  for  all  the  world  like — like " 

"  A  ham,  or  better  still,  an  Indian  in  his  war 
paint,"  interpolated  the  agreeable  young  man  of  the 
party. 

"George  Playfair,"  Miss  Meadow  went  on,  after 
bestowing  a  withering  glance  upon  her  only  brother, 
'just  look  at  your  boy." 

"  I  have  been  looking  at  him  these  last  five  min- 
utes, Jane." 

"  Can't  you  see  that  he's  badly  shaken  ? ' 

"  He  was  pretty  badly  shaken  when  you  got  hold 
of  him.  But  if  you  mean  to  say  he's  sick,  I  must 
give  it  as  my  opinion  that  he  never  looked  better  in 
his  life," 


1 68  TOM   FLAYFAIR. 

"  Men  have  no  feelings,"  exclaimed  Miss  Meadow 
with  unusual  bitterness. 

"They  can  see  through  a  millstone,  Chough,  when 
there's  a  good-sized  hole  in  it,"  said  Mr.  Meadow, 
grinning  at  his  own  wit. 

"Now,  Tommy,  tell  us  all  about  that  dreadful 
night.  By  the  way,  Charles,"  she  continued,  ad- 
dressing Mr.  Meadow,  "  are  there  any  lightning-rods 
on  this  house?" 

"Two." 

"Is  that  all?" 

"I  should  think  that's  enough." 

'You  can't  have  too  many,"  continued  Miss 
Meadow. 

'We  might  attach  a  lightning-rod  to  Tom,"  sug- 
gested Mr.  Playfair  dryly.  'He'd  present  an  inter- 
esting spectacle,  going  round  with  a  lightning-rod 
sticking  out  of  his  hat." 

;' George  Playfair,"  exclaimed  Miss  Meadow,  aris- 
ing from  her  chair,  "if  you  had  any  heart  in  you, 
you  wouldn't  go  jesting  on  that  subject,  after  such 
a  terrific  visitation!" 

'Oh!  if  you  wish,  my  dear,  we'll  have  both  light- 
ning-rods removed  from  this  house." 

Miss  Meadow  gave  him  a  look — such  a  look! — 
then  turned  to  Tom,  and,  with  many  a  question, 
succeeded  in  extracting  from  her  tortured  nephe'V 
some  account  of  the  calamity. 

'Wasn't  he  brave!"  she  exclaimed,  when  he  had 
detailed  his  experiences  in  crossing  the  creek.  "  He 
might  have  been  drowned."  And  Miss  Meadow 
caught  Tom  to  her  arms  again. 

;' If  the  boy  had  had  any  sense  at  all,"  said  the 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  169 

practical   father,    "  he'd  have  felt  around   for  that 
bridge  to  begin  with,  instead  of  risking  his  life." 

'Yes,  Tom,"  added  the  genial  uncle,  "you  were 
a  fool.  By  the  way,  that  swimming  adventure  of 
yours  reminds  me  of — " 

Mr.  Meadow  was  about  to  relate  how  he  had  once 
saved  a  drowning  companion  by  reaching  him  a 
long  pole  from  the  bank,  when  he  was  interrupt 
by  Tom's  extraordinary  gesticulations.  For  Tom 
had  at  once  raised  both  hands  in  air,  and  set  his 
fingers  wriggling  in  a  way  that  was  little  short  of 
dazzling. 

'What's  the  matter?"  exclaimed  the  narrator. 

'Ten  times,"  answered  Tom.  "You've  told  us 
that  story  ten  times  in  the  last  ten  months.  Give 
us  something  new." 

Tom  intended  to  be  facetious,  but  his  impertinence 
offended  his  uncle,  who  forthwith  proceeded  to  nar- 
rate Tom's  adventures  in  Cincinnati. 

During  the  recital  Mr.  Playfair's  brow  clouded. 

;<  I  don't  like  it,"  he  observed  at  the  end. 

"Don't  like  what?"  cried  the  aunt.  "Indeed, 
sir,  you  don't  know  what  a  treasure  you've  got. 
Few  boys  would  give  all  their  money  and  their  best 
suit  of  clothes  in  charity." 

'  Yes,  and  few  boys  who  are  supposed  to  be  gen- 
tlemen would  stay  out  all  night,  and  run  into  saloona 
to  sell  papers." 

"  I  forgot,  pa. " 

'And,"  continued  the  stern  father,  whose  very 
love  for  his  son  made  him  a  severe  judge,  "  it's  very 
charitable  to  give  away  clothes  and  money,  but 
whose  were  they  ?" 


1  70  TOM   PLAY  FAIR. 

"You  gave  me  the  money,  pa;  and,  besides,  I  only 
loaned  it." 

"And  then,"  Mr.  Playfair  was  resuming)  but  Miss 
Meadow  came  to  the  rescue. 

"  Now,  George,  the  idea  of  scolding  your  heroic 
little  boy  after  a  separation  of  three  months!  You 
know  you'd  have  been  sorry  if  Tom  had  acted  any 
way  else.  " 

"  No,  I  wouldn't,  Jane.  Tom  should  have  gone 
back  to  his  uncle  in  the  theatre  —  " 

"It  wasn't  much  of  a  theatre,  anyhow,"  put  in 
Tom,  getting  in  return  a  savage  scowl  from  his 
uncle. 

"  And  Charles  would  have  taken  care  of  the  boy 
without  all  this  paper-selling  and  staying  out  all 
night." 

"Well,  pa,  I  meant  to  do  right." 

"What's  that  place  they  say  is  paved  with  good 
intentions?"  asked  Mr.  Meadow. 

'I'm  sure  you  meant  right,  Tom,  but  you  must 
be  careful.  Remember  you're  getting  ready  for 
your  First  Communion." 

Mr.  Playfair,  it  may  be  remarked,  was  somewhat 
Jansenistic  in  his  ideas.  All  during  Mr.  Meadow's 
account  of  Tom,  he  had  been  deliberating  whether 
the  boy  were  of  a  fit  age  and  disposition  for  receiv- 
ing the  Blessed  Sacrament.  He  loved  his  boy,  but 
did  not  understand  him. 

'By  the  way,  Jane,"  he  said,  turning  to  Miss 
Meadow,  "if  you  wish  to  see  your  former  school- 
mate before  dinner,  we'd  better  start  at  once.  Of 
course  you'll  come  with  us,  Tom." 

Hurrah!"  cried  Tom,  regaining  his  spirits. 
at  this  point  Miss  Meadow  failed  hirrj. 


' 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  171 

"Mr.  Playfair!"  she  exclaimed  dramatically,  "will 
you  please  look  out  that  window?" 

"I'm  tired  looking  out  that  window,  Jane." 

"And  do  you  mean  to  say  that  you  are  willing  to 
expose  your  son's  precious  life  in  the  face  of  a 
blinding  snow-storm?" 

Miss  Meadow  was  carried  into  exaggeration  by 
her  anxiety  for  Tom's  welfare.  It  was  snowing 
quite  briskly,  but  by  no  means  in  such  a  way  as  to 
merit  her  strong  epithet. 

"Pshaw!"  cried  Tom,  "I  ain't  a  girl." 

'I  don't  see  any  particular  risk,"  said  the  father. 

"  In  his  present  debilitated  state,"  continued  Aunt 
Jane  firmly,  *  it  would  be  absolute  suicide  to  let 
that  boy  put  his  foot  beyond  the  threshold." 

'  Do  you  take  me  for  a  wax  doll  ?"  growled  Tom. 

But,  despite  all  protests,  Miss  Meadow  had  her 
will. 

Presenting  her  nephew  with  a  box  of  candy  and 
the  "  History  of  Sandford  and  Merton,"and  caution- 
ing him  to  avoid  all  draughts  and  keep  his  feet 
warm,  the  good  little  lady  departed  with  Mr.  Play- 
fair  and  her  amiable  brother,  leaving  behind  her  a 
very  discontented  young  man  indeed. 

Tom  spent  fully  half  an  hour  munching  candy 
and  reading  the  initial  chapters  of  the  story ;  then 
he  closed  the  book  with  a  snap. 

"Those  English  boys  must  be  queer  fellows,  if 
they  go  round  preaching  sermons  the  way  that 
Sandford  does.*  I'm  glad  he  doesn't  go  to  St. 
Maure's;  he  makes  me  tired." 

That  was  the  last  of  Sandford   and  Merton   for 

*  Tom  did   the   English  boys  injustice.     Master  Sandford,  I 
told,  exists  in  fiption,  not  in  England. 


I72  TOM   PLAY  FAIR. 

Tom.      He  presented  the  precious  volume,   before 
leaving  Cincinnati,  to  the  house  cook. 

The  ensuing  hour  passed  very  slowly.  He  gave 
most  of  the  time  to  gazing  ruefully  out  of  the  window, 
with  his  nose  flattened  against  the  pane.  The  snow 
continued  to  fall,  and  the  street  below  had  become 
carpeted  in  white.  Tiring  even  of  this,  he  at  length 
took  to  standing  on  his  head  and  turning  somer- 
saults; and  he  was  thus  putting  himself  into  a  hap- 
pier frame  of  mind,  when  there  came  a  ring  at  the 
door. 

Thinking  that  it  was  his  father  and  aunt,  he  has- 
tened to  admit  them  himself;  but  instead  of  finding 
his  relations  standing  without,  he  opened  the  door 
upon  a  very  small  boy,  with  a  very  weazen  face  and 
a  very  large  snow-shovel. 

"Halloa!"  said  Tom. 

'Would  you  like  to  have  the  snow  shovelled  off 
your  pavement,  sir?" 

'It  isn't  my  pavement;  and,  besides,  I'm  not  the 
lady  of  the  house,"  explained  Tom.  "But,  if  you 
like,  I'll  go  and  ask  her." 

'Thank  you,  sir,"  said  the  very  small  boy. 

Tom  returned  presently,  with  the  news  that  the 
lady  of  the  house  would  put  her  hired  man  at  it, 
later  on. 

'Thank  you,  sir,"  and  the  little  boy  touched  his 
cap  and  sniffled. 
Tom  was  touched. 

'I  say,  little  chap,  wont  you  take  some  candy?" 

'Thank  you,  sir."  The  small  boy  received  the 
handful  of  caramels  with  a  smile. 

'How  much  do  you 'charge  for  shovelling  snow?'" 
pursued  Tom. 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  173 

"  Twenty-five  cents  is  the  regular  charge,  I  think, 
sir." 

"What's  your  charge?'* 

"I  don't  know,  exactly.     I  never  tried  before." 

"  How  does  fifty  cents  suit  you?"  continued  Tom, 
spreading  his  feet  and  with  his  arms  akimbo. 

"That's  too  much." 

"  Not  for  you,  though.  You're  not  used  to  the 
work,  and  it'll  take  you  twice  as  long  to  do  it  as  a 
fellow  who  is  used  to  it.  That's  why  I'll  pay  you 
twice  as  much." 

This  was  Tom's  first  expression  of  opinion  in 
political  economy. 

The  very  small  boy  was  presently  working  away 
with  a  will,  while  his  smiling  employer,  standing  in 
the  doorway,  looked  on  with  undisguised  interest. 

"Where's  your  gloves?"  asked  Tom,  after  a 
silence  of  at  least  five  minutes. 

"  I  aint  got  any,  sir." 

"Here, "cried  the  employer,  returning  from  the 
hat-rack  with  his  own,  "  come  up  here  and  put  these 


on.' 


"Please,  sir,  I  don't  want  them,  thank  you." 

He  was  a  modest  boy,  this  weazen-face. 

"  Who  asked  you  whether  you  wanted  them  or  not  ? 
You're  in  my  employment  now,  and  you've  got  to 
do  what  you're  told.  Hop  up  here  and  put  'em  on. 
What's  your  name  ?"  continued  Capital,  as  he  handed 
Labor  the  gloves. 

"Fred  Williams,  sir." 

"  Call  me  Tom,  or  I'll  discharge  you.  I  like  your 
name.  I  knew  a  fellow  named  Fred  once,  and  he 
wasn't  a  bad  sort  of  a  chap,  though  he  was  an  awful 
blower." 


174  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

Fred  smiled  in  an  ancient  way  and,  descending 
the  steps,  resumed  his  work.  One  moment  later,  a 
snowball  took  him  on  the  back  of  the  head.  He 
turned  his  face  to  the  door,  but  Tom,  who  was 
grinning  behind  it,  was  out  of  sight. 

'I  did  it,"  said  the  honest  but  undignified  em- 
ployer, after  a  judicious  interval,  as  he  came  running 
down  the  steps.  ;'  Say,  you're  tired,  aren't  you?" 

"No,  sir." 

'Yes,  you  are;  let  me  catch  hold  of  that  shovel. 
I'll  bet  I  can  manage  it  better  than  you." 

Aghast,  the  employee  yielded,  and  Tom  put  him- 
self to  shovelling  till  his  back  ached.  He  had 
completely  forgotten  Aunt  Meadow's  injunctions. 

'There!"  he  exclaimed,  throwing  a  last  shovelful 
into  the  gutter,  "  now  that's  done  for.  Here's  your 
fifty  cents,  Fred." 

"Thank   you,   sir,"  said  Fred  simply.     "It's  for 


mamma.1 


'Take  some  more  candy,"  said  Tom. 

'No,  thank  you.     Good-bye,  sir." 
"Hold  on;  let's  have  some  fun." 

Fred  grinned. 

'  Just  stand  at  that  corner,"  continued  Tom,  "  and 
we'll  peg  at  each  other.  You  ought  to  get  a  chance 
at  me,  because  I  hit  you  when  you  weren't  looking, 
you  know." 

'I'd  like  to,  but  mamma's  sick  and  I  want  to 
help  her." 

'If  I  had  any  more  money,"  said  Tom,  "I'd  get 
you  to  clean  off  some  more  sidewalks;  but  I'm 
dead  broke." 

The  little  boy  was  about  to  speak,  when  a  sound 
not  unlike  a  scream  startled  the  two  lads. 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  i?5 

"Why,  Tommy,"  continued  Miss  Meadow,  turning 
the  corner  with  her  brother-in-law,  'you'll  catch 
your  death  of  cold.  Go  into  the  house  this  very 
instant.  Aren't  your  stockings  wet?" 

"Of  course  they  are;  I've  been  shovelling  snow. 
Say,  aunt,"  he  added  in  a  low  tone,  as  he  brought 
his  mouth  to  her  ear,  "this  little  chap's  got  a  sick 
mother.  Give  him  a  dollar  and  I'll  do  anything 
you  like." 

"You  will?     Then  I'll  give  him  two." 

Tom's  promise  cost  him  a  hot  mustard  bath,  but 
he  bore  it  bravely  for  sweet  charity's  sake. 

After  supper,  our  hero  actually  did  become  ill. 

He  felt  an  uneasy  feeling  somewhere  within,  and 
didn't  know  what  to  make  of  it.  Like  the  young 
Spartan  with  the  fox  gnawing  at  his  vitals,  he  tried 
to  bear  his  misery  with  unchanged  demeanor.  Poor 
boy!  a  week's  feasting  following  hard  upon  a  week's 
fasting  had  been  too  much  for  him. 

Miss  Meadow,  who  had  been  watching  him  all 
day  with  the  eye  of  a  detective,  noticed  a  change  in 
his  color.  There  was  no  imagination  this  time. 

"Tommy,  tell  me  the  truth,"  she  said,  "you  are 
sick." 

"It's  here,  aunt,"  said  Tom,  laying  his  hand 
pathetically  upon  his  stomach. 

Whereupon  Miss  Meadow  put  him  to  bed,  placed 
a  mustard  plaster  upon  the  place  indicated,  and, 
seating  herself  beside  her  boy,  held  a  watch  before 
her  to  time  his  misery.  In  ten  minutes  be  began 
wriggling. 

"You've  got  to  bear  it,  Tommy  dear." 

"I  prefer  the  belly-ache,"  growled  the  impatient 
invalid.  He  attempted  to  move  his  aunt  by  groans, 


J76  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

but  she  was  obdurate.  Then  he  begged  for  a  glass 
of  water,  determined,  once  his  aunt  had  left  the 
room,  to  fling  the  wretched  plaster  out  of  the  win- 
dow. But  Miss  Meadow,  with  her  eyes  watching 
his  every  motion,  backed  over  to  the  door  and  called 
out  for  water. 

'I  think,  aunt,  you'd  better  take  that  rag  off," 
implored  Tom,  when  the  watch  had  gone  seventeen 
minutes.  'I'm  perfectly  well,  honest;  and  that 
thing's  burning  awfully." 

But  Miss  Meadow  mounted  guard  till  twenty-five 
minutes  had  elapsed. 

He  was  cured.  His  aunt,  bent  on  making  assur- 
ance doubly  sure,  now  produced  a  box  of  pills; 
however,  when  he  protested,  almost  with  tears  in 
his  eyes,  that  he  never  felt  better  in  his  life,  Miss 
Meadow  gave  in. 

When  she  returned  to  the  room  rather  suddenly,  a 
few  minutes  later,  she  was  horrified  to  find  the  dar- 
ling boy  dancing  about  the  room,  apparently  in  an 
ecstasy  of  joy. 

Tommy !  you  reckless  boy !  What  are  you  doing 
now?" 

'I  was  celebrating,"  he  answered,  somewhat  dis- 
comfited at  being  discovered, and  highly  astonished  at 
seeing  that  his  aunt  had  a  coil  of  rope  in  her  hands. 
"Celebrating  what?" 

That  old  mustard  plaster.  I  feel  so  good  that 
it's  off.  But  I  say,  aunt,  you're  not  going  to  tie 
me  down,  are  you  ?" 

'No,  Tommy;  but  get  into  bed,  and  I'll  tell  you 
all  about  it." 

Curiosity  gave  Tom's  obedience  a  generous  amount 
of  promptness. 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  177 

Then  Miss  Meadow  gravely  tied  one  end  of  the 
rope  to  the  bureau. 

"  It's  a  heavy  bureau,  Tom;  and  it  will  stand  the 
strain." 

The  astonished  lad  began  to  fear  that  his  aunt 
was  losing  her  mind. 

"  What  strain  ?" 

'Tommy,  pay  attention  to  me;  if  the  house 
catches  fire,  or  gets  struck  by  lightning,  drop  this 
rope  out  the  window  and  climb  down.  You're  good 
at  climbing,  you  know." 

"  Do  you  really  think,  aunt,  that  the  lightning  is 
chasing  me  round  the  world?" 

"We  don't  know  what  may  happen,"  said  the 
little  woman.  "  There  are  storms  and  fires  all  over 
the  country.  Now,  goodnight,  dear!"  and  she  kissed 
the  unromantic  youth. 

Miss  Meadow  had  not  been  gone  five  minutes, 
when  she  remembered  that  Tom's  water-pitcher 
needed  replenishing.  She  hastened  back,  and,  as 
she  entered  his  room,  gave  a  gasp.  He  was  not 
there. 

"Tommy!"  she  called. 

"Yes'm." 

The  voice  was  from  without.  Ah!  she  saw  it  all 
now,  as  with  a  suppressed  scream  she  hurried  over 
to  the  open  window,  following  the  course  of  the 
rope. 

Tom  was  half-way  down. 

"  You  wretch — God  forgive  me! — my  dear  Tommy, 
what  on  earth  are  you  doing?" 

'Testing  your  fire-escape,  aunt.  It's  immense!" 
He  delivered  this  opinion  as  he  touched  foot  in  the 
yard.  No  sooner  had  he  relinquished  his  hold  on 

12 


TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

the  rope  than  Miss  Meadow  hauled  it  up  into  the 

window  with  feverish  haste. 

"I  say,"  he  protested,  "how'll  I  get  back?" 

''I'll  open  the  door  for  you,  Tommy." 

'But  you've  spoiled  all  my  fun;  it  would  be  jolly 

climbing  up  again." 

Master  Tom,  nevertheless,  re-entered  by  the  side 

door;  and  slept  without  a  fire-escape  that  night. 


CHAPTER    XIX. 

IN   WHICH   TOM  AND  KEEN  AN  HOLD  A   COUNCIL   OF  WAR. 

"TTEY!  you  fellows  over  there;  you  needn't  try 
.  1  to  dodge  work ;  come  on,  now,  and  haul 
snow.  Harry,  for  goodness'  sake,  go  and  show 
Conway  how  to  roll  that  snowball  of  his  here.  If 
he  goes  on  that  way  he  wont  have  it  here  in  time 
for  next  Christmas.  I  say,  John  Donnel,  stir  up 
John  Pitch,  wont  you?  There  he  is  fooling  around 
in  a  puddle  of  water  with  his  old  rubber  boots,  when 
he  ought  to  be  hard  at  work." 

Such  were  the  quick  and  various  remarks  that 
came  from  the  mouth  of  Tom  Playfair,  some  few 
days  after  his  return  from  St.  Louis,  whither  he  had 
gone  with  father  and  aunt  to  spend  his  Christmas 
holidays. 

The  events  of  the  November  night  had  made  Tom 
extremely  popular  among  his  playfellows.  All  boys 
are  at  bottom  generous  hearted.  Selfishness  is  the 
crust  of  years;  and  the  countless  mean  acts  of  cer- 
tain boys  are  in  nine  cases  out  of  ten  the  result  of 
thoughtlessness,  and  in  the  tenth  case,  the  fruit  of 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  179 

false  ideals  and  defective  training.  So,  in  the 
general  chorus  of  praise  for  Tom,  there  was  not  a 
single  dissenting  voice. 

For  some  days  past  there  had  been  talk  in  the 
small  yard  of  building  a  snow  fort,  and  of  inviting 
the  boys  of  the  large  yard  to  attempt  its  capture. 
Various  details  had  been  discussed,  until  finally, 
with  the  rejection  of  some  and  the  acceptance  of 
others,  it  was  resolved  to  carry  the  matter  into 
effect. 

"Who'll  be  captain?"  queried  Conway. 

"Keenan!"  suggested  Pitch.  "  He  was  captain 
last  year." 

"Not  this  time,"  said  George  Keenan.  'One 
turn  is  good  enough  for  me.  I  like  to  play  second 
fiddle  now  and  then.  It  seems  to  me  that  our  cap- 
tain for  this  year  ought  to  be  Tom  Playfair. " 

"Playfair!  Playfair!"  was  re-echoed  on  all  sides, 
and  with  the  least  little  touch  of  a  blush  on  the  part 
of  Tom,  and  wondrous  unanimity  on  the  part  of 
his  playfellows,  our  hero  was  installed  as  captain  of 
the  small  boys'  snow  fort. 

With  his  usual  energy,  Tom  set  about  constructing 
the  ramparts  of  snow;  his  orders  went  flying  right 
and  left.  He  was  an  active  superintendent;  he 
inspected  everything  personally;  and  in  doubtful 
points  consulted  the  experience  of  Donnel  and 
Keenan. 

"I  say,  John,"  he  said,  addressing  Donnel,  when 
matters  were  well  underway,  "  how  long  did  you  fel- 
lows hold  the  fort  against  the  big  boys  last  year?" 

"About  eleven  or  twelve  minutes.  They  stole  a 
march  on  us  last  year.  Before  dinner,  we  had  got 
over  five  hundred  snowballs  ready.  While  we  were 


TOM   PL  A  YFAIR. 

in  eating,  some  of  the  big  boys  stole  them.  That 
took  all  the  spirit  out  of  our  fellows.  By  the  way, 
we  ought  to  get  even  with  them  for  that  trick.  I'm 
going  to  try  to  think  out  some  scheme.  Yes,  Tom; 
last  year  they  put  us  to  rout  in  eleven  minutes." 

'Pshaw!  That  wont  go.  We're  not  going  to 
allow  them  to  clean  us  out  in  that  style  this  year." 

'Aren't  you,  now?  I  don't  know  about  that," 
put  in  Keenan.  "  Some  of  those  big  chaps  are  just 
awful  at  throwing  a  snowball.  Once  Carmody 
pegged  a  snowball  that  took  me  square  on  the  nose. 
It  came  in  so  hard,  that  I  thought  at  first  that  my 
nose  was  driven  through  my  head,  and  would  come 
sticking  out  on  the  other  side." 

'Yes,"  chimed  in  John,  "  and  once  last  winter 
when  Ryan  hit  me  in  the  eye,  I  saw  so  many  moons 
that  I  thought  I  was  a  lunatic." 

This  excellent  classical  pun — excellent  because 
so  extremely  bad — was  lost  upon  Tom.  It  was  lost 
upon  George,  too,  who  at  that  moment  was  seemingly 
absorbed  in  thought. 

Tom,"  he  said  suddenly,  "I've  an  idea.  Come 
over  by  the  playroom;  I  think  you're  just  the  boy 
that  can  carry  it  out." 

There  was  inspiration  in  George's  face. 

The  two  walked  away  together,  and  held  a  long, 
animated,  but  whispered  consultation.  Presently 
they  returned  to  John's  side. 

'Now,  the  question  is,"  began  Tom,  "to  find  out 
who  are  the  best  throwers  in  the  big  yard." 

'Let's  see,"  said  Donnel.  "There's  Ryan  and 
Carmody  and  McNeff  and  McCoy  (he  uses  ice  balls, 
too;  he's  a  mean  fellow)  and  Drew  and  Will  Cleary 
and  Ziegler.  That's  all  I  can  remember."  As 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  181 

George  enumerated  each  name  he  checked  it  off  on 
his  fingers  and  blinked  his  eyes. 

"You  left  out  two  of  the  best,"  put  in  John  Don- 
nel— "Miller  and  Arthur." 

"Just  nine,"  said  Tom,  as  he  walked  away. 

Donnel  perceived  that  something  was  on  foot;  his 
curiosity  was  aroused. 

''  Say,  George,  what  scheme  are  you  and  Tom 
hatching?" 

'We're  going  to  steal  all  the  snow  in  the  big 
yard,  so's  to  deprive  the  big  fellows  of  ammunition," 
was  George's  grave  reply. 

'Oh,  come  on!  what's  the  idea?" 

'We're  going  to  make  a  bonfire  in  the  fort,  so's 
to  keep  the  boys  warm  and  prevent  the  snow  from 
freezing  too  hard." 

John  aimed  a  blow  at  George,  which  would  have 
taken  that  young  wag  in  the  ribs,  had  he  not  ducked 
promptly.  With  a  growl  on  the  part  of  John, 
and  a  laugh  on  the  part  of  George,  the  conference 
ended. 

Meantime,  the  work  went  on  with  ever-increasing 
energy;  so  that,  as  the  sweet  notes  of  the  Angelus 
bell  announced  the  hour  of  noon,  and  the  boys  with 
bared  heads  paused  from  their  work  to  renew  the 
angelic  salutation, — one  of  the  sweetest  memorial 
customs  of  St.  Maure's, — they  bowed  their  faces  and 
breathed  their  words  in  the  presence  of  a  fort 
graceful  in  its  way,  and  strong  as  boyish  skill  could 
make  it. 

It  had  been  arranged  that  the  storming  of  the  fort 
should  begin  precisely  at  one  o'clock.  Contrary  to 
the  general  custom  on  holidays,  there  was  much 
talking  and  little  eating  at  dinner;  and  even  the 


1 82  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

advent  of  the  favorite  pie  aroused  but  little  enthu- 
siasm. 

Truth  compels  me  to  say  that  not  a  few  of  the 
boys  shortened  their  customary  after-dinner  visit  to 
the  Blessed  Sacrament  on  this  occasion; — we  are 
dealing  with  boys,  not  with  angels. 

While  twenty  or  thirty  of  the  stronger  lads  busied 
themselves  in  inspecting  and  strengthening  the  for- 
tification, the  others  gave  themselves  to  the  manu- 
facturing and  storing  away  of  snowballs. 

These  they  placed  within  the  intrenchments, 
which,  I  forgot  to  mention,  were  situated  in  the 
angle  formed  by  a  wing  and  a  portion  of  the  main 
body  of  the  "old  church  building." 

Precisely  at  fifteen  minutes  to  one  o'clock,  Tom, 
assuming  an  air  of  coolness  which  belied  his  real 
feelings,  presented  himself  to  the  second  prefect  of 
the  large  yard. 

'Mr.  Beakey,"  he  said,  politely  raising  his  cap, 
"could  you  please  tell  me  who  is  the  captain  of  the 
big  boys?" 

''Captain!"    repeated    Mr.    Beakey,   banteringly. 
'They  don't  need  a  captain  to  rout  out  you  little 
fellows." 

"  Maybe  they  think  they  don't,  Mr.  Beakey;  but  I 
hope  they'll  change  their  minds.  Well,  if  there 
isn't  any  captain,  couldn't  I  please  have  a  talk  with 
some  of  the  leaders?" 

''Certainly, — not  the  least  objection,"  answered 
the  prefect,  in  an  encouraging  tone;  for  he  per- 
ceived that  Tom  was  strangely  timid  and  embar- 
rassed. 

"And  eh— eh,  Mr.  Beakey,"  continued  Tom, 
blushing  and  hanging  his  head,  "could  I  please 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  183 

have  the  key  of  your  class-room,  so's  we  can  go  up 
there  and  fix  our  plans?  It  wont  take  more  than 
two  minutes." 

The  prefect  handed  Tom  the  required  key.  "  Oh, 
thank  you,  Mr.  Beakey!  and  please,  sir,  will  you 
ring  the  bell  for  the  assault  to  begin  as  soon  as  I 
come  down  ?" 

"Yes;  anything  else  on  your  mind?" 

'Yes,  sir;  just  one  thing  more.  I  want  to  see 
Carmody,  Ryan,  McNeff,  McCoy,  Drew,  Will 
Cleary,  Ziegler,  Arthur,  and  Miller." 

"Are  those  the  leaders?" 

"I  think  so,  sir,"  answered  Tom  modestly. 

'You  have  their  names  pat;  probably  you'll  find 
most  of  them  in  the  reading-room,  and  a  few  in  the 
play-room." 

Tom  sought  them  out  at  once.  They  were  not  a 
little  amused  at  his  proposition  to  hold  a  meeting; 
but  good-naturedly  yielded,  and  followed  him  over 
to  the  class-room  building. 

"I  say,"  said  Tom,  as  they  trudged  up  the  stairs, 
"how  long  do  you  expect  us  to  hold  the  fort?" 

"  If  you  hold  it  five  minutes,  you'll  be  doing  well," 
volunteered  Miller,  with  a  grin. 

"  Perhaps  you  may  hold  out  fifteen  minutes  or  so," 
remarked  Carmody,  with  a  view  to  encouraging  the 
young  captain. 

"Well,  I'll  tell  you  what,"  said  Tom;  "if  we 
stand  it  out  half  an  hour,  will  you  agree  in  the 
name  of  the  big  fellows  to  give  up  the  fighting,  and 
allow  the  victory  to  us?" 

"Of  course."  "I  should  say  so!"  "Yes,  sir," 
came  the  general  chorus;  and  as  they  spoke  Car- 
mody winked  solemnly  at  Ryan,  Will  Cleary  put  his 


1 34  TOM   PLAY  FAIR. 

finger  to  his  eye,  and  a  general  grin  passed  from 
face  to  face. 

"Well,"  said  the  object  of  this  subdued  and  ill- 
concealed  merriment,  as  he  unlocked  the  door  of 
Mr.  Beakey's  class-room,  "if  you'll  walk  in,  we'll 
settle  everything  in  less  than  no  time." 

Tom  stood  holding  the  door  open,  with  the  key 
in  the  lock,  waiting  in  all  innocence  and  politeness 
for  the  wily  leaders  of  the  large  yard  to  enter.  All 
entered,  still  grinning.  Suddenly,  Tom  sprang  from 
the  room,  and  the  door  banged  after  him,  while 
coming  close  upon  the  slam  grated  the  ominous 
sound  of  the  key  turning  in  the  lock,  followed  by 
the  quick  patter  of  light  feet  down  the  stairs. 

The  hard-hitters  of  the  large  yard  were  prisoners. 

•- 


CHAPTER    XX. 

STORMING  OF  THE   SNOW  FORT.— MR.   BE  A  KEY   TALKS  AT 
CROSS  PURPOSES  WITH  THE  SENIOR  STUDENTS. 

"/"\H,  Mr.  Beakey,"  shouted  Tom  a  few  moments 
\J  later,  "  ring  the  bell,  please — we've  got  every- 
thing fixed  the  way  I  want  it.  And — I  came  near 
forgetting  it — wont  you  please  time  us?  The  fight 
isn't  to  go  beyond  half  an  hour.  If  we  last  it  out 
half  an  hour,  we  win,  you  know."  With  which 
words,  Tom  started  off  at  break-neck  speed  for 
the  fort;  and  such  progress  did  he  make  that  he 
was  within  a  few  yards  of  his  intrenchments  when 
the  college  bell  gave  the  signal  for  the  beginning 
of  hostilities. 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  185 

The  sound  of  the  bell,  coupled  with  Tom's  ap- 
pearance, drew  shrill,  hearty  cheers  from  the  little 
boys,  as  standing,  snowballs  in  hand,  they  impa- 
tiently awaited  the  onset. 

By  way  of  echo,  a  hoarser,  deeper  sound  came 
from  the  large  yard;  it  was  the  battle  cry  of  the 
large  boys,  confidently  moving  to  victory. 

Scarcely  had  these  raucous  cheers  been  fairly 
heard,  when  their  authors,  thus  far  screened  from 
the  eyes  of  the  small  boys  by  the  intervening  build- 
ing, appeared  in  full  view,  as  they  came  rushing 
round  the  corner  of  the  "  little  boys'  dormitory." 

Forthwith,  a  few  balls  began  to  fall  harmlessly 
about  the  fort. 

"They  might  as  well  send  off  sky-rockets,"  re- 
marked Conway. 

"Boys,"  said  Tom,  "don't  throw  a  single  ball  till 
I  give  the  word.  Be  sure  not  to  forget.  All  you 
have  to  do  for  the  present  is  to  keep  your  eyes  open 
and  dodge  every  ball." 

Thicker,  swifter,  oftener,  straighter,  came  the 
snowballs;  nearer  and  nearer  the  attacking  party. 

"Hi!  hi!  Come,  clear  out  of  that,  little  chaps!" 
shouted  Fanning,  who  was  well  in  the  front  of  his 
party.  "Come  and  put  us  out!"  came  the  answer 
from  Conway. 

"  Come  on,  boys,"  continued  the  energetic  aggres- 
sor, "let's  charge  'em." 

Inspirited  by  Fanning's  advice,  the  large  boys 
gave  a  rousing  cheer. 

"Now,  give  it  'em,"  bawled  Fanning,  as  he  came 
within  about  fifty  feet  of  the  fort. 

In  prompt  obedience  to  this  order,  a  shower  of 
snowballs  made  the  air  white;  and  two  of  the  small 


1 86  TOM   FLAYFAIR. 

boys,   each  holding  his  hand  to  his  nose,   marked 
their  way  to  the  infirmary  with  a  trail  of  crimson. 

"Whoop-la!  Now's  our  time,"  cried  Tom,  as  the 
large  boys  stooped  for  a  fresh  supply  of  snow. 
"Fire!" 

As  ball  after  ball  whizzed  into  the  ranks  of  the 
besiegers,  their  expressions  of  enthusiasm,  so  multi- 
tudinous before,  shaded  off  into  blended  expressions 
of  astonishment  and  uneasiness.  Presently,  how- 
ever, astonishment  pure  and  simple  stamped  itself 
on  their  faces;  for  before  they  had  fairly  begun  to 
dodge  the  well-directed  balls  of  the  small  boys,  the 
shrill  cry  of  "  Charge!"  came  from  the  fort  upon 
their  startled  ears,  and  presto!  there  issued  at  a  run 
twenty-five  of  the  small  yard's  chosen  sharp-shooters. 

Whiz!  whiz!  whiz!  whiz! 

This  was  too  much.  Amidst  the  shouts  and  taunts 
of  the  small  boys,  the  crash  of  cymbal,  beat  of  drum 
and  blare  of  trumpet — all  purloined  from  the  music- 
room  by  the  ingenious  Conway — the  large  boys  of 
St.  Maure's  turned  tail  and  fled!  Not  all,  however. 

In  the  confusion  of  onset,  Fanning  and  a  few  of 
the  unterrified  resorted  to  a  manoeuvre.  Quietly 
slipping  aside  they  allowed  pursued  and  pursuers 
to  pass,  then  suddenly  advanced  upon  the  fort. 

But  the  smaller  boys  inside  were  thrilled  with  the 
martial  spirit  of  their  leaders;  they  fought  bravely. 
Still,  the  issue  could  hardly  be  looked  upon  as 
doubtful.  Slowly  but  inevitably  the  hope  of  the 
large  yard  advanced.  Fanning's  voice  was  becom- 
ing "hoarse  with  joy."  He  hoped  that  in  a  few 
moments  the  works  of  the  enemy  would  be  his.  But 
he  reckoned  without  his  host. 

He  was  still  urging  his  men  on,  forgetful  of  the 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  187 

sharp-shooters  in  his  wake,  when  Tom's  voice  rose 
above  the  din. 

"Hold  the  fort,  for  we  are  coming,"  bawled  the 
young  Sherman;  and  as  he  spoke  he  laid  his  hand 
on  Fanning's  shoulder. 

"Do  you  surrender?"  continued  Tom. 

Fanning  with  his  contingent  turned,  only  to  find 
that  he  was  hemmed  in  by  twenty-five  warriors  bold. 

'Never!"  shouted  Fanning,  as  with  a  vigorous 
shove  he  tumbled  Tom  over  into  the  snow.  "We'll 
die  first." 

'Then  die!"  said  Keenan;  and  forthwith  twenty- 
four  small  boys  fell  upon  the  unterrified — outnum- 
bering them,  I  must  say,  three  to  one, — brought  them 
to  the  earth,  bound  them,  dragged  them  behind  the 
intrenchments,  oblivious  in  the  mean  time  of  the 
galling  fire  of  the  main  body  of  the  enemy,  who 
were  content  to  remain,  however,  at  a  safe  distance. 

From  that  moment,  the  fighting  on  the  part  of  the 
large  boys  was  tame.  Deprived  of  their  most  skil- 
ful throwers,  whose  absence  they  had  not  noticed  at 
the  beginning  of  hostilities,  and  without  the  leader- 
ship of  Fanning,  they  displayed  a  "  masterly  inac- 
tivity." 

Whenever  the  junior  students  issued  forth  for  a 
charge,  they  had  a  capital  opportunity  of  observing 
the  elegance  and  variety  of  the  senior  students'  coat- 
tails. 

In  the  mean  time,  the  prefects  and  several  of  the 
professors  stood  looking  on.  Among  them  was  Mr. 
Beakey.  He  had  a  quick  eye,  and  it  struck  him, 
presently,  that  a  number  of  the  large  boys  were 
absent.  Where  could  they  be  ? 

His  suspicions  were  aroused.      Perhaps  they  had 


1 88  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

taken  advantage  of  his  being  a  new  prefect — he 
arrived  in  St.  Maure's  but  a  few  weeks  previous — to 
slip  up  to  the  village.  Perhaps — dreadful  thought! 
— they  might  come  back  to  college  intoxicated. 
Mr.  Beakey  was  familiar  with  stories  of  boarding- 
schools,  and  he  remembered  some  sad  cases  of  youth- 
ful intemperance. 

He  gave  a  sigh,  took  out  his  note-book,  and  ran 
over  the  list  of  the  boys.  His  face  grew  longer  as 
he  read  and  compared.  Yes,  all  the  leaders,  the 
very  boys  whom  Tom  had  asked  for,  were  missing. 

"  This  is  too  bad, "  he  muttered  to  himself.  "  They 
are  the  last  boys  I  would  suspect  of  acting  under- 
hand. I  do  hope  they  wont  do  anything  to  disgrace 
the  college.  They're  all  good  boys,  and  it  would 
be  a  pity  to  have  even  one  of  them  expelled.  It's 
a  pity  I  don't  know  the  boys  better.  But  'perhaps 
they're  about  in  some  corner  or  other.  I'll  make 
sure  of  that  point  first." 

Just  then,  Tom,  on  a  grand  triumphant  charge, 
came  sweeping  past  him.  Regardless  of  the  flying 
missiles,  Mr.  Beakey  caught  up  with  him. 

"Playfair,"  he  cried,  raising  his  voice  above  the 
din,  "do  you  know  anything  about  Carmody,  Ryan, 
and  those  other  boys  you  asked  leave  to  speak  to  ? 
Where  are  they  ?" 

Mr-  Beakey's  face  as  he  spoke  was  clouded. 
Tom  judged  the  expression  to  be  one  of  vexation, 
and  inferred,  boy-like,  that  the  prefect  was  not  at 
all  pleased  at  seeing  his  boys  routed. 

"I'll  tell  him  the  story,"  thought  Tom,  "after 
the  battle,  when  he's  not  so  excited,  If  I  tell  him 
now  he'll  give  me  a  big  scolding." 

So  he  replied  demurely: 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  189 

;<  Mr.  Beakey,  wont  you  please  excuse  me  ?  But, 
really,  I'd  rather  not  tell." 

This  answer  confirmed  Mr.  Beakey's  worst  sus- 
picions. 

'There's  no  doubt  about  it,"  he  muttered,  as  he 
made  his  way  out  of  the  thick  of  the  fight.  "  These 
boys  have  stolen  away  to  the  village.  But  I  do 
hope  they'll  not  drink  anything." 

Mr.  Beakey  took  out  his  watch.  He  started;  it 
was  two  minutes  beyond  the  half  hour  agreed  upon. 
Hastening  to  his  own  yard,  he  rang  the  bell. 

A  great  scream  rose  from  the  throats  of  a  hundred 
small  boys,  as,  in  the  full  flush  of  victory,  they 
charged  their  vanquished  seniors  for  the  last  time. 
It  was  a  disgraceful  rout. 

No  sooner  had  the  bell  sounded  than  Tom  quickly 
pattered  to  the  class-room  building,  stealthily  has- 
tened up  the  staircase,  and  under  cover  of  the  cries 
of  victory  without,  and  the  growling  of  the  prisoners 
within,  unlocked  the  door.  He  then  hurried  away, 
entrusted  Mr.  Beakey's  key  to  the  care  of  a  large 
boy,  and  returned  to  his  proper  yard, — there  to 
receive  congratulations  and  fight  his  battles  o'er 
again. 

In  the  class-room  which  he  had  just  left,  however, 
there  were  no  congratulations  exchanged.  Carmody 
and  Ryan  were  sulking  in  a  corner;  Ziegler  was 
elaborately  writing  "  sold  again"  on  the  black-board; 
Will  Cleary  was  whistling  the  "Last  Rose  of  Sum- 
mer," after  the  manner  of  a  dirge;  while  Miller 
paced  up  and  down  between  the  benches  like  a  caged 
tiger. 

"  Confound  it !"  burst  forth  McNeff.  "  I  was  never 
so  badly  taken  in  since  I  came  here." 


19°  TO M  PLAYFAIR. 

'You  haven't  been  here  so  long;  you're  young 
yet,"  was  Ryan's  consolatory  reflection. 

"This  is  a  pretty  how-de-do,"  growled  Cleary. 
"  Every  mule  in  the  yard  will  have  the  laugh  on  us." 

"I'll  paralyze  the  first  fellow  that  laughs  at  me," 
said  McCoy. 

"Just  imagine  the  grin  on  Fanning's  face,"  mut- 
tered Carmody. 

The  task  of  imagining  Fanning's  grin  seemed  to 
be  attended  with  some  difficulties,  for  it  induced  a 
silence  that  lasted  for  several  minutes. 

"Isn't  that  little  wretch  ever  coming  back  to  un- 
lock this  door?"  cried  Arthur,  at  length.  'The 
fight's  been  over  nearly  an  hour.  Hasn't  any  one 
got  a  button-hook  ?" 

There  was  a  sullen  silence. 

"Well,  come  on,"  continued  Arthur,  "let's  go  to 
the  window,  and  catch  some  fellow's  eye,  and  get 
him  to  open  up  for  us." 

"For  goodness'  sake!"  cried  Ryan,  "don't. 
There'll  be  laughing  enough  at  us  as  it  is.  But  if 
the  fellows  once  know  we're  here,  they'll  march  up 
in  procession  to  let  us  out." 

"Well,"  said  Ziegler,  "I  don't  propose  to  stay 
here  forever.  I  wonder  couldn't  I  squeeze  through 
the  transom?" 

'You  might  try,"  said  Carmody  encouragingly. 
'"  And  who  knows  but  the  key  is  still  in  the  lock? 
It  would  be  just  like  that  brat  of  a  small  boy  to 
leave  it  there,  and  forget  all  about  it.  Small  boys 
are  nuisances." 

While  Carmody  was  speaking,  Ziegler  had  taken 
off  his  coat  and  vest. 

'  Now,  boys,  give  me  a  lift,"  he  said. 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  191 

Eager  hands  came  to  his  help — a  trifle  too  eager, 
perhaps;  for  Ziegler  was  hurried  through  the  aper- 
ture in  such  wise  that  he  came  down  on  the  other 
side  on  hands  and  knees. 

"You're  a  lot  of  lunatics!"  he  volunteered  as  he 
arose,  "you'd  think  I  was  insured  for  a  fortune,  and 
had  two  or  three  necks  to  break.  There  isn't  any 
key  here." 

'Try  and  break  the  door  in,"  suggested  McCoy. 

"All  right!  Get  away  from  the  door,  then," 
returned  Ziegler. 

He  stepped  back  a  few  paces,  and  then  made  a 
violent  rush  at  the  door,  catching  and  turning  the 
knob  as  he  threw  the  whole  weight  of  his  body 
against  the  woodwork. 

The  door  flew  open,  and  Ziegler  flew  in.  His 
flying  progress  was  arrested  by  Cleary,  who  was 
rendered  breathless  and  brought  to  the  floor  with 
his  friend  on  top. 

While  the  two  unfortunates  were  ruefully  picking 
themselves  up,  the  others  broke  into  a  ringing  laugh. 

;<  Shut  up!"  roared  Ziegler,  when  he  could  com- 
mand his  breath.  "You're  a  lot  of  fools!  You 
might  have  known  that  door  was  unlocked." 

"That's  a  fact,"  assented  Carmody.  "It's  funny 
it  didn't  occur  to  you.  You're  a  pretty  sharp  fellow, 
you  know." 

"Aw!  tell  us  something  new,"  snarled  Ziegler. 

"Oh!  why  doesn't  somebody  hit  me  hard?"  apos- 
trophized Ryan.  "We've  been  mooning  in  here 
over  an  hour  and  a  half,  and  that  door's  been  open 
over  a  century." 

Slowly  and  sadly  they  went  down  the  stairs,  each 
one  trying  to  get  behind  the  other, — a  feat  in  which 


192  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

all,  of  course,  did  not  succeed.  On  emerging  into 
the  yard,  they  breathed  more  freely  when  they  per- 
ceived that  no  one  was  outside  but  Mr.  Beakey,  who 
had  been  anxiously  scanning  the  four  quarters  in 
hope  of  discovering  their  whereabouts. 

"Boys, "said  the  prefect,  whose  suspicions  were 
confirmed  by  their  sheepish  looks  and  blushing  faces, 
"you're  caught — there's  no  getting  out  of  it." 

"Well,  that's  so,  Mr.  Beakey,"  said  Carmody, 
trying  to  be  easy  and  failing;  "we  might  as  well 
acknowledge  it.  We've  been  stupid." 

"So,  you  don't  offer  any  excuses?"  exclaimed  Mr. 
Beakey,  in  astonishment. 

:<Oh! — well — it  was  only  in  fun,  sir,"  said  Ryan, 
whose  sheepishness  had  now  grown  intense. 

"Only  in  fun!"  gasped  Mr.  Beakey.  "Fun!  fun! 
that's  not  my  idea  of  fun." 

"Why,  it's  not  so  very  serious,  Mr.  Beakey,"  said 
Cleary,  in  a  conciliatory  tone.  ;*  And  I  hope,"  he 
continued,  'you  wont  punish  Playfair  on  account 
of  it." 

Mr.  Beakey  remembered  Tom's  embarrassment. 

"What!"  he  exclaimed.  "Do  you  mean  to  say 
that  that  little  innocent  was  concerned  in  it?" 

"  Why,  he  was  at  the  bottom  of  the  whole  matter," 
broke  in  Carmody,  in  astonishment  at  the  prefect's 
obtuseness.  :' And  let  me  tell  you,  he's  not  so  inno- 
cent, either;  he's  up  to  more  tricks  than  any  boy 
twice  his  size  in  this  college — confound  him!" 

'  Really,"  said  the  prefect,  in  a  troubled  voice, 

'  the  case   is  far  worse  than   I   thought.     Boys,    I 

didn't  expect  it  of  you.     I  thought  you  had  more 


sense.' 


General    sheepishness    at    its   maximum.       Some 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  193 

grinning  helplessly.  Majority  gazing  at  their 
feet. 

'Frankly,"  he  continued,  'I  am  very  sorry  on 
your  account. 

"Oh,  don't  bother  about  us,  sir,"  put  in  Cleary; 
"we  can  stand  being  laughed  at." 

'Laughed  at!"  echoed  the  prefect  in  dismay; 
"  do  you  mean  to  say  that  such  things  are  matter  for 
laughter  to  the  students  of  this  college?" 

'Why,  certainly,"  said  Ryan,  no  less  puzzled  than 
the  prefect.  ;' And,  in  fact,  I  guess  we'll  have  to 
laugh  the  thing  off  ourselves." 

"There,  now,  that'll  do,"  said  Mr.  Beakey 
sternly.  '  I  see  that  not  one  of  you  is  in  a  condi- 
tion to  talk  sense.  You  will  repent  your  words  to- 
morrow, when  you  regain  the  proper  use  of  your 


reason.' 


The  boys  exchanged  glances  of  perplexity.  For 
the  first  time,  they  began  to  suspect  that  they  were 
talking  at  cross  purposes. 

"Come,  now,"  continued  the  prefect,  'tell  the 
exact  truth.  How  long  were  you  up?" 

(Mr.  Beakey  meant  uptown;  the  boys  thought 
that  he  had  reference  to  the  class-room.) 

"Over  an  hour,"  said  Carmody. 

"And  how  much  did  each  one  of  you  take?" 

The  boys  again  looked  at  each  other. 

"Do  you  mean  chalk,  sir?"  ventured  Ziegler. 
"I  took  a  small  piece,  but  meant  no  harm,"  and  he 
produced  from  his  pocket  a  bit  of  black-board 
chalk. 

Mr.  Beakey  flushed  with  anger. 

"There  wasn't  anything  else  to  take  but   ink," 
continued  Ziegler,  "and  none  of  us  wanted  any." 
13 


194  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

This  made  matters  worse.  Mr.  Beakey  now  felt 
confident  that  the  boys  were  quizzing  him. 

'*  Enough  of  this  nonsense,"  he  said.  "You  need 
not  make  your  case  worse  than  it  is  by  untimely 
joking.  You  have  already  acknowledged  that  you 
are  fairly  caught.  I  missed  you  from  the  yard  be- 
fore you  were  gone  five  minutes — and  you  have 
shown  some  signs  of  sorrow ;  you  have  acknowledged 
that  you  were  "uptown'  for  over  an  hour;  your 
shamefaced  expressions  and  flushed  faces  show  the 
effects  of  your  indiscretion — there's  a  clear  case 
against  you.  So,  now,  you  may  as  well  out  with  the 
whole  thing,  and  tell  how  much  you  took." 

The  astonishment  that  deepened  on  each  one's 
face  with  each  remark  of  Mr.  Beakey  culminated 
in  a  look  of  comic  amazement;  the  misunderstanding 
was  too  ridiculous.  Mr.  Beakey's  last  question  was 
the  signal  for  a  hearty  burst  of  laughter. 

"Boys!  boys!"  implored  Mr.  Beakey,  "for  good- 
ness' sake  don't  create  a  scene!" 

Restraining  his  mirth,  Ryan  explained  the  misun- 
derstanding; and  as  he  spoke,  it  was  delightful  to 
see  how  the  wrinkles  and  frowns  disappeared  from 
the  prefect's  brow,  and  how  the  firm-set,  stern  lines 
about  the  mouth  softened  into  the  brightest  of  smiles. 

'Well,  boys,"  he  said,  when  Ryan  had  detailed 
their  adventures,  "I  acknowledge  that  I've  made  a 
big  blunder,  and  I  ask  your  pardon.  I  don't  know 
the  ropes  yet,  you  see.  But  sincerely,  I  am  glad 
that  I  am  in  the  wrong." 

There  was  a  whispered  consultation  among  the 
boys;  then  Ryan  spoke: 

'  Mr.  Beakey,  we  want  you  to  do  us  a  favor.  You 
and  that  Play  fair  boy  are  the  only  ones  that  know 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  195 

of  the  way  we  were  taken  in — we'll  make  him  keep 
quiet,  if  you'll  promise  to  say  nothing  to  any  one 
about  it." 

"You  can  trust  me,"  answered  Mr.  Beakey,  "not 
a  soul  shall  hear  of  it  from  my  lips." 

'Thank  you,  sir,"  came  the  general  chorus. 

Tom  was  easily  induced  to  hold  his  tongue  on  the 
subject;  so,  too,  was  George  Keenan  (who  had  sug- 
gested the  plot  to  Tom)  ;  and  so  the  "  true  inward- 
ness" of  the  big  boys'  failure  to  take  the  snow  fort 
now  becomes  public  for  the  first  time. 


CHAPTER   XXI. 

IN   WHICH    TOM  MEETS    WITH  A    BITTER    TRIAL. 

IN  the  events  I  have  narrated  as  happening  after 
the  night  of  the  first  Friday  in  November,  I  have 
purposely    avoided    enlarging    upon    the    grief   and 
horror  of  that  dreadful  accident. 

One  would  think,  judging  from  what  I  have  related 
of  Tom,  that  our  cheerful  little  hero  had  been 
strangely  unimpressed  by  the  tragic  incident.  This, 
however,  is  a  wrong  inference.  True,  Tom,  by 
being  sent  to  the  infirmary,  was  wisely  spared  the 
sad  sights  incident  upon  the  burial  of  his  two  friends. 
After  leaving  the  dormitory,  he  never  saw  the  face 
of  Green  again, — face  more  beautiful  and  composed 
in  death  than  it  had  ever  been  in  the  years  of  col- 
lege life.  Nor  did  he  ever  again  see  the  face  of  the 
gentle  boy  who  had  asked  his  prayers.  Had  he 
seen  it,  he  would  have  recognized  the  same  beautiful 
expression  which  had  thrown  a  halo  upon  the  coun- 


TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

tenance  when  the  boy  had  uttered  "  Sweet  Heart  of 
Jesus,  be  my  Love." 

Nevertheless,  the  accident  had  deeply  affected 
Tom.  He  knew  that  his  own  escape  from  instant 
death  had  fallen  little  short  of  a  miracle;  and  every 
night  from  his  inmost  heart  he  thanked  God  that 
he  had  been  spared  to  make  his  First  Communion. 
That  Green  had  been  taken  away  just  as  he  had 
conquered  his  passions  and  made  a  start  for  the 
better,  and  that  Alec  had  been  called  to  God  on  the 
very  day  he  had  completed  his  ninth  First  Friday, 
seemed  to  Tom  to  be  a  wondrous  manifestation  of 
God's  mercy.  It  was  a  lesson,  too. 

It  filled  his  little  heart  with  a  burning  desire  to 
receive  Our  Lord  in  the  sacrament  of  His  love. 
Among  Catholic  boys — as  I  have  known  them — such 
feelings  and  affections  show  themselves  outwardly 
in  a  somewhat  negative  manner.  They  do  not 
manifest  themselves  in  deed  and  conversation,  save 
by  increased  carefulness  in  avoiding  anything  sinful. 

Joke  and  jest,  play  and  study,  may  go  on  in  all 
seeming  as  before.  But  the  change,  for  all  that, 
may  be  radical  and  life-long. 

It  was  a  happy  day  for  Tom  when  on  the  fifteenth 
of  February  the  First  Communion  Class  was  organ- 
ized. I  dare  say  that  no  small  boy  who  ever  attended 
St.  Maure's  set  about  the  work  of  preparation  as 
Tom  did.  Each  day  he  had  his  catechism  lesson 
prepared  with  a  thoroughness  that  was  beyond  criti- 
cism. Nor,  in  the  mean  time,  did  he  neglect  his 
other  studies.  Indeed,  owing  to  his  long  absence, 
it  became  necessary  for  him  to  apply  himself  very 
hard,  in  order  to  put  himself  on  a  fair  footing  with 
his  classmates.  Unfortunately,  the  semi-annual  ex- 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  197 

animations  were  upon  him  before  he  could  repeat 
all  the  class  matter  he  had  missed,  and  when,  on  the 
22d  of  February,  the  class-standing  was  published, 
Tom  stood  at  the  foot  of  his  class,  with  but  sixty 
merit  marks  out  of  a  hundred. 

'I  hope  my  father  won't  get  mad  about  it,"  he 
remarked  to  Harry  Quip;  and  as  he  spoke  he  looked 
quite  serious. 

'Oh!  I'm  sure  he  won't  mind  it,"  said  Harry. 
'He  knows  you've  missed  several  weeks." 

'Yes,  but  pa's  getting  mighty  strict.  He  thinks 
I'm  awful  careless.  The  fact  is,  we  like  each  other 
immensely,but  pa  doesn't  know  what  to  make  of  me. " 

In  these  few  words  Tom  had  set  down  their  rela- 
tions quite  clearly.  Mr.  Playfair  loved  his  boy; 
but  as  for  understanding  him,  that  was  another 
question.  Clearly,  if  Mr.  Playfair  had  ever  been  a 
boy  himself,  he  had  either  forgotten  that  circum- 
stance or  he  had  been  cast  in  quite  a  different  mould 
from  his  son.  The  wall  of  misunderstanding  had 
been  rising  higher  between  them  ever  since  Tom 
reached  the  age  of  reason.  Such  relations  between 
father  and  son  are  not  uncommon. 

Tom's  forebodings  on  this  occasion  were  not  with- 
out foundation.  Several  days  later  he  was  sum- 
moned to  the  President's  room.  On  entering,  he 
saw  at  once  from  the  reverend  Father's  face  that 
something  had  gone  wrong. 

"Ah!  Tommy;  how  are  you  studying?" 

''Pretty  hard,  sir." 

"And  how  are  you  getting  on  with  your  teacher?" 

"I  like  him  very  much.  If  he's  got  anything 
against  me  lately  he  hasn't  told  me  anything  about 
it," 


198  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

"Are  you  sure  you've  had  no  trouble  lately?" 

"Yes,  Father;  I'm  getting  ready  for  my  First 
Communion." 

'  Well,  Tom,  I've  very  bad  news  for  you." 

"Anybody  sick  at  home,  sir?" 

'No;  it  regards  yourself.  Your  father  is  very 
much  displeased  with  your  bulletin." 

"Oh,  I  got  low  notes  because  I  missed  a  lot  of 
classes.  Mr.  Middleton  says  I've  caught  up 
already." 

'  Your  father  knew  you  had  been  absent,  too,  but 
there  must  have  been  something  more  in  your  bulle- 
tin,— some  remark  which  indicated  that  you  were 
not  giving  satisfaction;  for  your  father  sends  me 
imperative  orders  to  take  you  out  of  the  Communion 
Class  at  once." 

A  strange  expression  came  over  Tom's  face. 
Every  nerve  seemed  to  be  a-quiver.  Till  that  mo- 
ment, Tom  himself  had  had  no  idea  of  the  ardent 
desire  with  which  he  looked  forward  to  his  "day  of 
days." 

'Don't  take  it  too  much  to  heart,  my  boy,"  con- 
tinued the  President,  both  touched  and  edified  at 
the  way  in  which  Tom  received  the  news.  "I  have 
a  hope  that  further  examination  will  discover  some 
mistake.  You  mustn't  give  up  hope  yet.  I'll  in- 
quire about  your  bulletin,  and  find  out  just  how 
things  stand,  as  soon  as  possible." 

"Thank  you,  Father,"  said  Tom. 

*  In  the  mean  time,  offer  your  trial  to  God,  my 
Doy.  It  comes  from  Him.  His  ways  are  not  our 
ways.  And  when  He  sends  us  trials,  He  wishes  us 
to  hear  up  under  them  cheerfully." 

1  ('11  try  to  swallow  it,  sir.     But  it's  rough." 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  199 

Tom  went  directly  to  the  chapel,  prostrated  him- 
self before  the  Blessed  Sacrament,  and  there  prayed 
fervently.  When  he  entered,  he  was  dazed,  bewil- 
dered; when  he  left,  three  minutes  later,  he  was 
comparatively  calm.  There  is  no  sorrow  that  prayer 
cannot  soothe;  and  children's  sorrows,  God  be 
thanked  for  it,  are  quickest  to  yield  their  bitterness 
to  fervent  prayer. 

No  one  observing  Tom  playing  at  "  foot-and-a- 
half, "  within  that  same  hour,  could  imagine  that 
the  nimble  lad,  all  gayety  and  motion,  had  just  met 
the  second  great  sorrow  of  his  life.  The  death  of 
his  mother  had  been  the  first. 

A  week  elapsed  before  he  was  again  summoned 
by  the  President. 

"Well,  Tom,  things  are  looking  a  little  brighter. 
There's  been  a  grave  blunder.  Report  was  sent  to 
your  father  that  your  conduct  had  been  'highly  unsat- 
isfactory. '  Now  those  words  were  put  in  your  bul- 
letin by  some  clerical  error.  They  belonged  to  some 
other  boy's.  I  have  just  written  your  father  how 
matters  stand,  and  I'm  quite  sure  that  all  will  be 
right  within  a  week." 

Tom  grinned  excessively,  and,  finding  some  diffi- 
culty in  keeping  both  feet  upon  the  floor,  hastened 
to  leave  the  room;  whereupon  he  danced  all  the 
way  back  to  his  yard. 

And  till  news  came  from  Mr.  Playfair,  Tom  was 
in  great  glee.  How  eagerly  he  hastened  to  the 
President's  room  to  hear  the  final  word!  He  entered 
all  aglow  and  smiling,  but  the  glow  gave  way  to 
ashen  whiteness  and  the  smile  disappeared  instantane- 
ously. Something  there  was  in  the  President's  face 
which  warned  him  that  his  troubles  were  not  yet  over. 


200  TOM   PL  A  YFAIR. 

"I've  been  a  little  surprised,  Tom,  by  the  tenor 
of  your  father's  letter.  He  says  he  is  glad  to  learn 
that  your  conduct  is  so  satisfactory,  and  that  you 
are  doing  so  well  in  your  studies;  but  he  adds  that 
he  has  been  doubting  for  some  time  about  the  pro- 
priety of  your  making  First  Communion,  on  other 
grounds  ' 

"  I  used  to  give  lots  of  trouble  at  home,"  explained 
Tom  humbly.  "  I  guess  pa  thinks  I  need  more 
time  to  reform." 

"He  is  acting  through  love  for  you,  Tom;  he 
wants  to  make  sure  that  you  are  well  prepared.  He 
suspects  that  your  levity  of  disposition  is  a  sign  that 
you  are  too  young." 

"Yes,"  assented  Tom  sadly,  "I'd  be  better  off  if 
I  could  go  around  with  a  long  face." 

"However,"  added  the  President,  suppressing  a 
smile,  "he  leaves  the  matter  in  my  hands." 

Tom  brightened  at  once. 

'Judging  from  the  drift  of  his  letter,  though,  I 
think  that  he  would  prefer  you  to  wait." 

Tom's  face  fell  again. 

'  Now,  my  boy,  you  have  your  choice.  If  you 
insist,  I  shall  allow  you  to  rejoin  the  Communion 
Class." 

Tom  thought  for  a  moment,  then  suddenly  a  light 
flashed  from  his  eyes, — the  light  of  an  inspiration. 

"Father,  I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do.  I'll  give  it 
up  for  this  year." 

He  did  not  explain  his  reasons,  but  for  the  Father 
no  explanation  was  needed.  Tom  had  taken  the 
side  of  strict  obedience  and  of  sacrifice. 

''God  will  bless  you  for  that  resolution,  my  boy. 
Your  Communion,  when  it  comes,  will  be  all 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  2OI 

happier;  and  even  if  you  have  been  disobedient  at 
times,  the  act  you  have  now  made  will  more  than 
atone.  You  have  chosen  wisely,  and  God's  blessing 
will  be  upon  the  choice." 

Tom  departed  happy.  But  the  pain  and  struggle 
were  not  over.  At  times  an  intense  longing  would 
come  upon  our  little  friend. 

On  the  feast  of  St.  Joseph's  Patronage,  when  six- 
teen little  lads  knelt  at  the  altar  to  receive  for  the 
first  time  their  divine  Master,  Tom's  eyes  became 
very  moist.  One  tear  trickled  down  his  honest  face, 
and  with  the  dropping  of  that  tear  all  his  sadness 
was  gone. 

There  was  no  relaxation  in  his  studies,  meantime. 
Looking  forward  to  his  First  Communion,  he  conse- 
crated every  day  to  preparation;  and  so,  when  the 
last  examination  came,  Tom  won  highest  honors  in 
his  class,  with  ninety-nine  merit  marks  after  his 
name. 

Poor  Tom!  Between  him  and  his  Communion 
another  tragic  experience  was  to  intervene.  Upon 
this  roguish  little  boy  God  seemed  to  have  special 
designs. 


CHAPTER    XXII. 

IN    WHICH    TOM    WINS    A    NEW  FRIEND    AND     HEARS    A 

STRANGE  STORY. 

IT  must  be  said  in  justice   to  Mr.   Playfair  that 
Tom's   record    during   the    last   half    of    school 
pleased  him  very  much. 

Jndeed,  he  expressed  his  pleasure  in  such  terms  on 


202  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

their  meeting  again  that  Tom  blushed  to  the  tips 
of  his  ears. 

"  Say,  pa,  what  about  my  Communion  ?" 

"  You  can  make  it,  my  boy,  just  as  soon  as  the 
President  allows  you  next  year.  Perhaps  I  was  a 
little  severe  on  you,  but  it  has  done  you  good." 

And,  indeed,  there  could  be  no  doubt  about  Tom's 
improvement,  though  truth  compels  me  to  add  that 
he  made  things  very  lively  indeed  at  home  during 
the  two  months  of  vacation. 

On  returning  to  college,  he  had  a  long  talk  with 
the  President,  the  issue  of  which  was,  that  Ton. 
should  prepare  under  the  reverend  Father's  personal 
direction  to  receive  his  Lord  at  Christmas. 

That  Christmas  was  to  be  the  turning-point  in 
our  hero's  life. 

September  passed  quietly.  Towards  the  end  of 
the  month  Tom  came  upon  a  new  friend. 

He  was  sauntering  about  the  yard  one  bright 
afternoon,  when  his  attention  was  caught  by  the 
following  dialogue: 

"He's  homesick!" 

"  He  wants  his  ma!" 

'Give  him  a  little  doll,  in  a  nice  gold-paper 
dress!" 

These  were  a  few  of  the  remarks  from  John  Pitch 
and  a  few  others  of  the  same  ilk,  addressed  to  a 
timid-looking  lad,  around  whom  they  had  rudely 
gathered.  Just  then  Tom  and  Harry  chanced  to  be 
passing  by. 

"  What's  the  matter  ?"  inquired  Tom  of  the  victim. 

"He  wants  his  ma,  but  you'll  do,  Playfair,"  vol- 
unteered John  Pitch. 

"You're  a  mean  set,  to  be  teasing  a  poor  new- 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  203 

comer,  who  hasn't  got  any  friends,"  exclaimed  Tom, 
his  eyes  flashing. 

"  Mind  your  business,  Playfair,"  said  Pitch. 
"  Yes,  and  you  mind  yours,  and  let  the  poor  new 
kid  alone.  Come  on,  Johnny  What's-your-name, 
and  have  a  game  of  catch.  Here,  take  some  candy." 
Tom's  new  friend,  James  Aldine,  said  very  little, 
but  his  eyes  spoke  volumes  of  gratitude.  He  was  a 
quiet,  olive-complexioned  boy.  His  eyes,  dark  and 
heavily  shaded,  had  a  trick  of  passing  from  an  ex- 
pression of  gentle  timidity  to  one  of  marked  fear. 
Tom,  who  at  once  took  a  liking  to  the  new-comer, 
soon  came  to  notice  this  change  of  countenance,  and 
as  the  days  slipped  by  and  their  intimacy  increased, 
Tom's  wonder  grew.  He  was  puzzled,  and,  being 
an  outspoken  boy,  was  only  waiting  a  favorable  op- 
portunity of  satisfying  his  curiosity.  At  last  the 
occasion  presented  itself. 

It  was  the  second  week  of  October,  whei.  he  and 
James  found  themselves  alone  on  the  prairie,  fully 
two  miles  from  the  college.  The  average  boy  can 
make  an  intimate  friend  in  something  under  a  week. 
The  intercourse  of  these  two  had  already  gone  be- 
yond that  period,  and  Tom  felt  himself  fully  justified 
in  remarking: 

"What  makes  you  look  so  scared,  Jimmy?" 

"Do  I  look  scared?" 

"  Just  as  if  you  had  been  training  a  large  stock  of 
ghosts,  and  hadn't  succeeded." 

Jimmy  shivered,  and  his  face  paled. 

"Halloa!  now,  I  say,"  cried  Tom,  clapping  him 
heartily  on  the  back;  "what  is  the  matter,  any- 
how ?" 

"Qhs    Tom,"    and    Jimmy's    long-pent    emotions 


204  TOM   PLA  YFAIR. 

escaped  in  a  flood  of  tears,   "I'm  afraid  of  being 
murdered." 

"  What  ?"  gasped  Tom. 

"  Just  listen.  You  know  where  I  live,  about  sixty- 
five  miles  from  this  place,  on  a  large  farm.  Last  year 
a  new-comer  moved  near  us,  named  Hartnett.  He 
was  a  short,  dark,  ugly-looking  man,  with  bristling 
black  whiskers.  He  lived  all  alone,  about  a  mile 
from  our  folks,  and  seldom  said  a  word  to  anybody. 
One  night,  about  a  month  ago,  I  happened  to  pass 
by  his  house,  when  I  heard  a  noise  inside,  as  if  some 
one  were  trying  to  shout,  but  couldn't;  then  I  heard 
a  tremendous  hubbub,  as  if  there  was  a  scuffle; 
then  the  crack  of  a  pistol,  and  then  all  was  still 
again.  In  spite  of  my  fright,  I  crept  up  to  the  win- 
dow, and,  oh,  Tom,  how  I  was  frightened!  On  the 
floor  lay  a  man  in  a  pool  of  blood,  and  over  him 
stood  that  dark  man,  looking  still  darker.  I  was  so 
frightened  that  I  couldn't  stir,  and  there  I  stood 
with  my  face  against  the  window-pane.  Somehow, 
I  couldn't  move.  Then  my  heart  gave  a  great 
jump,  when  suddenly  Hartnett's  eyes  met  mine. 
At  first  he  turned  deadly  pale,  then  he  swore  a 
dreadful  oath  and  made  for  the  door.  As  he  moved, 
my  strength  came  back,  and  I  tell  you  I  ran  down 
the  road  at  full  speed;  yet  not  so  fast  but  that  I 
could  hear  his  heavy  breathing  as  he  followed.  Oh, 
it  was  awful — that  run  through  the  dark  woods!  I 
don't  think  I'll  ever  be  as  frightened  again,  not 
even  when  I  come  to  die.  Even  as  I  ran,  I  could 
tell  that  he  was  gaining  on  me;  and  I  called  to  God 
to  help  me,  and  prayed  as  I  had  never  prayed  before. 
At  last  his  hand  was  on  my  collar,  and  he  had  me 
tight.  He  pressed  me  to  the  earth  with  one  hand. 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  205 

and  with  the  other  pulled  a  knife  from  his  bosom. 
I  shut  my  eyes  and  said  what  I  thought  was  to  be  my 
last  prayer.  Suddenly  his  grasp  loosened.  I  opened 
my  eyes  and  saw  he  had  changed  his  mind. 
'Boy,'  he  said,  in  a  tone  that  froze  my  blood,  'kneel 
down.'  As  I  took  the  position,  1  ^eld  me  closely. 
'I  know  you,'  he  said,  'and  you  needn't  fear  I'll 
ever  forget  your  face ;  now  swear  never  to  tell  what 
you  saw  in  my  house. '  Then  he  put  me  through  a 
dreadful  oath,  and  swore  that  if  ever  I  opened  my 
lips  about  what  had  happened  that  night  he  would 
kill  me  with  most  awful  tortures."  Here  James 
paused,  and  trembled  in  every  limb. 

Tom  put  his  hands  in  his  trousers'  pockets,  and 
stood  with  his  legs  wide  apart.  It  was  his  method 
of  expressing  astonishment. 

'Gracious!"  he  said,  "but  he's  a  bad  man!  You 
oughtn't  to  be  afraid  of  him,  though." 

'But  I  am;  it  is  not  so  much  fear  of  him  as  of 
my  conduct  that  worries  me.  Sometimes  I  wonder 
whether  I  have  to  keep  such  an  oath.  Do  you  think 
I  have?" 

"I  haven't  got  that  far  in  my  catechism  yet," 
said  Tom ;  "  but  I  can  ask  my  teacher.  Why,  what's 
the  matter?" 

As  Tom  was  speaking,  a  look  of  horror  had  come 
upon  Jimmy's  face. 

;' Oh,  Tom,  I've  broken  my  oath.  I've  told  you 
the  secret  without  thinking  of  it." 

Tom  was  startled.  His  hands  went  deeper  into 
his  pockets  and  his  legs  spread  wider. 

"Well,"  he  inquired,  after  a  few  moments'  reflec- 
tion, "  you  didn't  mean  to  break  your  oath,  did  you  ?" 

"Honor  bright,  I  didn't,"  protested  James. 


206  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

"Well,  then,  it  isn't  any  sin;  because  you  can't 
commit  a  sin  unless  you  mean  to — that's  what  we  are 
told  in  catechism.  But  if  I'd  been  in  your  place  I 
wouldn't  have  taken  that  oath.  I'd  have  died  first. " 

"Well,  do  you  think  I'm  obliged  to  keep  it?" 

"I  don't  know  about  that.  I'll  tell  you  what: 
I'll  ask  the  President  about  it,  so's  he  won't  know 
that  I  mean  any  particular  boy.  What  do  you  say 
to  that  ?" 

"I  think  it's  a  good  idea." 

Before  night,  Tom  had  inquired  of  the  President 
and  learned  that  an  oath  taken  under  compulsion 
was  not  binding. 

"But,"  said  James,  when  this  news  was  imparted 
to  him,  "what  shall  I  do  about  it?  Do  you  think 
it  my  duty  to  tell  on  him?" 

"I  don't  know,  Jim;  you'd  better  think  about  it. 
Come  on,  let's  play  catch;"  and  Tom  produced  a 
Spalding  league  from  his  pocket.  They  were  hard  at 
it,  when  Harry  came  running  up  in  great  excitement. 

"I  say,"  he  began,  "have  you  heard  what  the 
Red  Clippers  have  done  ?" 

"No;  what?"  inquired  both  in  a  breath. 

"They  have  put  up,  as  a  prize,  a  fancy  base-ball 
bat  and  a  barrel  of  apples  to  any  club  in  the  yard 
that  plays  'em  a  decent  game  inside  of  a  month." 

The  "Red  Clippers"  was  the  banner  base-ball 
club  of  the  small  yard,  and  the  players  were  the 
strongest,  hardiest,  most  skilful  and  most  active  of 
the  junior  students.  They  were  the  constant  theme 
of  admiration  among  all  the  little  boys, — an  admi- 
ration not  unmerited,  inasmuch  as  the  Red  Clippers 
had  over  and  over  again  defeated  the  best  middle- 
sized  nine  of  the  large  yard.  A  challenge,  conse- 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  207 

quently,  from  their  nine,  was,  in  the  eyes  of  all,  an 
opportunity  to  win  glory. 

"I'll  tell  you  what,"  said  Tom,  "let's  get  up  a 
club  to  beat  'em." 

James  Aldine  smiled,  "  and  looked  at  Tom  as 
though  he  doubted  the  seriousness  of  this  offer. 

"Get  out!"  said  Harry  in  disdain.  "We'll  have 
to  grow  several  inches,  and  swell  out  in  every  direc- 
tion, before  we'll  be  able  to  beat  them." 

'That's  what  you  say,"  retorted  Tom.  "But 
we'll  see  about  that.  Now,  look  here!  Harry,  you 
can  curve,  can't  you?" 

"A  little,"  was  Harry's  modest  reply. 

"Very  well;  you'll  pitch  and  I'll  catch.  We'll 
practise  together  and  fix  things  so  as  to  fool  some 
of  those  fellows.  Joe  Whyte  may  hold  down  first 
base;  he's  a  good  jumper,  and  isn't  afraid  of  any- 
thing you  can  throw  at  him.  Willie  Ruthers  can 
play  second  base,  and  you,  Jimmy,  can  try  short 
stop.  Harry  Conly  seems  to  be  a  pretty  good  little 
chap,  and  he  can  hold  down  third.  Then,  we  can 
put  Harry  Underwood  in  right,  he's  a  gorgeous 
thrower;  Frank  McRoy  in  centre,  he's  got  long  legs 
-and  can  cover  a  great  deal  of  ground;  and  Lawrence 
Lery  in  left,  he's  a  good  fly-swallower. " 

"Pshaw!"  grumbled  Harry.  "All  those  fellows 
you've  named  are  little  tads.  Do  you  expect  to 
beat  the  Red  Clippers  with  them?" 

"That's  about  it." 

"Beat  the  Red  Clippers!"  reiterated  Harry. 

"That's  just  what  I  said,  if  we  take  a  few  weeks 
for  practice." 

"Hire  a  hall?"  said  Harry. 

"Just   wait,   will   you?      Now,    you  and  Jim  go 


2o8  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 

round  quietly  and  get  our  fellows  together,  without 
letting  any  of  the  other  boys  know  what's  going  on." 

With  but  little  delay,  the  boys  in  question  were 
brought  together;  whereupon  Tom  in  a  low  voice 
unfolded  his  plans.  At  first  his  hearers  received  the 
idea  of  beating  the  Red  Clippers  as  a  bit  of  unin- 
tentional pleasantry,  but  as  Tom  went  on,  they 
settled  into  earnestness  in  such  wise,  that  when  he 
came  to  a  pause,  all  yielded  the  readiest  assent  to  his 
wishes,  and  despite  Tom's  modest  disclaimer  elected 
him  captain,  manager,  and  trainer  of  the  new  club. 

From  that  time  on,  Tom  saw  to  it  that  his  men 
were  practising  constantly;  and  yet  their  training 
was  so  unobtrusive,  so  "hidden  under  a  bushel,"  as 
to  excite  no  comment  among  their  playmates. 

After  breakfast  and  supper,  for  instance,  McRoy, 
Underwood,  and  Conly  would  take  extreme  corners 
in  the  yard  and  give  the  whole  recreation-time  to 
the  catching  of  "high  flies;"  the  basemen  would 
practise  the  stopping  of  "grounders"  and  the  catch- 
ing of  line  balls;  while  Tom  and  Harry,  with  the 
prefect's  permission,  would  go  behind  the  old 
church  and  employ  their  time  at  'battery  work." 
Tom  was  a  plucky  little  catcher,  and  even  if  he 
failed  sometimes  of  holding  a  ball  he  was  not  afraid 
to  stop  it.  His  main  idea  in  regard  to  practising 
with  Harry  was  to  initiate  that  young  pitcher  into 
such  tricks  as  Tom's  small  experience  could  supply. 

Whenever  half-holiday  came  he  and  his  men,  in- 
stead of  going  out  for  a  walk,  remained  in  the  yard. 
Then,  when  the  play-ground  was  fairly  well  cleared, 
he  would  put  his  basemen  on  the  bases,  his  pitch- 
er in  the  box,  and  his  three  fielders  in  turn  at  the  bat. 

It  was  a  pleasing  sight  to  see  how  deftly  these 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  209 

knickerbockered  lads  handled  the  ball.  See  the 
pitcher,  bending  his  fingers  into  almost  impossible 
positions  round  the  ball !  He  is  preparing  to  deliver 
an  "  in-curve. "  Whiz!  there  it  goes,  right  over  the 
plate,  whack!  into  Tom's  hands;  and  the  boy  with 
the  bat  wonders  how  he  came  to  miss  it.  From  the 
way  Tom  throws  it  at  the  second  baseman,  you 
would  think  it  was  a  matter  of  life  and  death.  But 
it  is  thrown  too  high ;  however,  Ruthers  seems  to 
think  the  catching  of  it  to  be  likewise  a  matter  of 
life  and  death,  for  he  springs  into  the  air,  brings  it 
down  with  one  hand,  and  without  stopping  for 
applause  passes  it  on  a  low  line  to  the  first  baseman. 
The  first  baseman  is  familiar  with  the  short  bound; 
he  makes  a  neat  scoop,  then  sends  it  daisy-cutting 
across  the  diamond  to  the  short  stop,  who  secures 
it  on  a  dead  run,  jerking  it  into  the  hands  of  the 
third  baseman.  How  quick  they  are!  how  eager! 
The  one  week's  practice  has  been  magical  in  result. 

"Good  gracious!"  exclaimed  Willie,  "but  we  can 
play  ball  a  little  bit." 

"You're  right,"  said  Joe  as  he  walked  in.  'Say, 
Tom,  I  think  we  can  play  'em  any  time,  now — right 
away." 

'Not  much!"  said  Tom  emphatically.  'There's 
a  big  thing  we've  got  to  look  out  for  yet;  if  we  fix 
that  we'll  be  all  right." 

'What's  that?"  was  the  general  query. 

'We've  got  to  get  used  to  their  pitcher's  delivery, 
so's  to  bat  him  easy.  If  we  can't  do  good  batting, 
they'll  beat  us  badly.  Now,  I'll  tell  you  what;  I've 
got  a  scheme  to  bring  the  thing  the  way  we  want  it. 
It's  this:  I'll  bet  any  boy  here  the  cakes  for  the 
14 


2io  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 

next  two  weeks,  and  the  apples  too,  that  I  can  hold 
his  delivery  for  half  an  hour." 

The  "cakes  and  apples,"  also  the  "pie,"  were 
favorite  stakes  at  St.  Maure's.  By  these  terms  was 
understood  the  daily  dessert. 

"I'll  take  you,"  said  Harry,  whose  twinkling 
eyes  gave  evidence  that  he  understood  Tom's  plan. 
"And  I'll  give  Keenan  half  the  cakes  if  I  win." 

"Done, "said  Tom,  clasping  Harry's  hand,  and 
holding  it  till  Joe  kindly  "cut"  the  bet.  "And  I'll 
go  halves  with  George  if  I  win.  And  what  do  you 
say,  Harry,  if  these  boys  here,  who  have  heard  us 
make  the  bet,  do  the  batting  to  see  whether  they 
can  bluff  me?" 

"I  agree  to  that,  too,"  answered  Harry,  with  a 
solemn  wink. 

All  now  perceived  the  ruse  and  were  delighted 
with  their  parts.  No  matter  who  should  win  the 
bet,  it  would  be  a  splendid  opportunity  for  studying 
their  pitcher,  and  for  getting  some  practice  in  batting. 

After  supper  George  Keenan  was  somewhat  as- 
tonished to  find  himself  waited  upon  by  a  delega- 
tion of  yard-mates. 

'What  are  you  fellows  up  to?"  he  exclaimed. 

"Look  here,  George,"  Tom  began,  "I  want  you 
to  do  me  a  favor.  You  see  I  made  a  bet  to-day, 
while  these  fellows  were  standing  around,  that  I 
could  hold  your  hottest  balls  for  half  an  hour.  Now 
if  you  pitch  your  best  and  I  win,  you'll  get  my  dessert 
fora  week;  if  I  lose,  Harry '11  give  you  his  for  a  week." 

Most  model  boys,  if  we  can  believe  the  story 
books,  are  rather  indifferent  in  regard  to  cakes  and 
pie;  but  George  was  a  model  boy  on  lines  of  his 
own — he  jumped  at  the  offer. 


TOM  PLAYPAIR.  211 

"Why  of  course  I'll  pitch  to  you;  that's  fun  for 


me.' 


"  Thank  you,"  said  Tom  gratefully.  ;'  And  I  say, 
George,  these  boys  will  bat  your  pitching  so  as  to 
make  it  more  real." 

"Oh!  that's  all  right,"  answered  George,  taking 
off  his  coat,  and  stepping  into  the  pitcher's  box. 

A  referee  was  then  appointed  to  time  the  carrying 
out  of  this  novel  bet;  and  the  proceedings  began. 
For  some  time  Tom  contrived  to  hold  George's 
hottest  balls  with  apparent  ease,  while  the  witnesses 
improved  their  batting  abilities.  Strange  to  say, 
however,  Tom,  at  the  end  of  twenty-five  minutes, 
began  to  show  signs  of  weakening;  and  presently 
called  time.  Harry  had  won  the  bet. 

Tom  then  protested  that  he  was  sure  he  could 
win  the  wager  some  other  time;  and,  as  before, 
offered  to  bet  on  the  result.  Forthwith,  Will  Ruthers 
took  him  up,  and  it  was  agreed  that  on  the  following 
day  the  test  should  be  repeated. 

In  a  word,  Tom,  by  a  variety  of  devices,  succeeded 
in  getting  his  men  an  opportunity  of  studying  and 
"solving"  George's  curves  three  or  four  times  each 
week. 

Nor  was  he  satisfied,  once  they  had  caught  the  knack 
of  hitting  Keenan.  He  went  further;  he  insisted  on 
their  batting  so  as  to  send  it  toward  third  base. 
He  had  a  good  reason  for  this,  as  the  issue  will  show. 

Thus,  giving  himself  to  study  and  to  play  with 
equal  zest,  and  never  losing  sight  of  the  sacred 
Christmas  that  was  approaching,  the  month  passed 
quickly  and  pleasantly  for  Tom;  and  almost  before 
he  could  realize  it,  the  day  for  the  great  base-ball 
match  was  at  hand. 


2 1 2  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 


CHAPTER    XXIII. 

IN    WHICH     THE    "KNICKERBOCKERS"    PLAY    THE     "RED 

CLIPPERS.11 

HIGH  Mass  on  All  Saints'  Day  had  just  ended. 
In  one  corner  of  the  small  yard  a  knot  of  boys 
had  gathered  together,  and  were  indulging  in  a 
hearty  laugh. 

;<O  Jupiter!"  Pitch  exclaimed,  "won't  we  do  'em 
up!" 

'They're  pretty  cool  for  little  fellows,"  remarked 
Harry  Jones,  the  field  captain  of  the  Red  Clippers. 
He  was  holding  in  his  hand  a  note. 

'What's  the  fun?"  asked  George  Keenan,  who 
had  arrived  late  on  the  scene. 

'The  best  joke  of  the  season,  George,"  said  Con- 
way.  '  Go  on;  read  it  to  him,  Henry." 

'  Listen  to  this,"  said  Henry,  with  a  smile. 

ST.  MAURE'S  COLLEGE, 

Nov.  ist,  iS — . 
MR.  HENRY  JONES— 

Dear  Sir:  We,  the  Knickerbocker  Club  of  St.  Maure's  Col- 
lege, do  hereby  challenge  the  Red  Clippers  to  a  game  of  base- 
ball to  be  played  on  the  afternoon  of  All  Saints'  Day. 

Respectfully, 

THOMAS  PLAYFAIR,  captain  and  c. 

HENRY  QUIP,  p. 

Jos.  WHYTE,  ib. 

WM.  RUTHERS,  2b. 

JAS.  ALDINE,  s.  s. 

HENRY  CONLY,  3b. 

HENRY  UNDERWOOD,  r.  f. 

FRANK  McRov,  c.  f. 

LORENZ  LERY,  1.  f. 


TOM    PLAY  FAIR-  213 

But  George  did  not  laugh. 

"Those  fellows,"  he  said  gravely,  "may  be  little, 
but  they  are  no  slouches.  As  for  ourselves,  we  have 
not  played  a  game  the  last  three  weeks,  and  some 
of  you  fellows  need  practice  badly." 

"  Oh,  pshaw!"  said  Pitch,  "  we  need  no  practice 
for  them.  I  batted  against  Quip's  pitching  last 
year,  and  I  can  knock  him  all  over." 

Despite  George's  doubts,  the  Red  Clippers  decided 
to  play  their  opponents  without  preparation. 

Soon  after  dinner,  accordingly,  all  the  small  boys 
hurried  from  the  yard  to  the  base-ball  field  beyond 
the  blue  grass,  where  they  were  presently  swelled  in 
number  by  the  arrival  of  the  senior  students,  who, 
having  heard  of  Tom  as  an  "exorcist,"  and  known 
him  as  captain  of  the  snow  fort,  were  anxious  to 
study  his  methods  in  the  national  game. 

At  five  minutes  to  two,  Henry  Jones  sent  a  five- 
cent  piece  spinning  in  the  air. 

"Heads!"  said  Tom. 

Heads  it  was,  and  the  captain  of  the  Knicker- 
bockers chose  the  "outs." 

"Time!  Play!"  bawled  the  umpire,  as  George 
Keenan  stepped  up  to  the  bat. 

The  ball  that  came  from  Harry's  hands  seemed  to 
be  in  a  great  hurry.  It  fairly  crossed  the  plate,  but 
was  too  high. 

"One  ball." 

Then  came  another  ball,  swift  and  low. 

"Two  balls." 

The  third  ball  was  tempting,  and  just  where 
George  wanted  it.  But  it  was  one  of  those  deceit- 
fully slow  balls,  and  almost  sailed  over  the  plate 
some  little  time  after  George  struck  at  it.  The 


214  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

batsman  had  lunged  vigorously,  and  as  the  resist- 
ance of  the  air  was  mild,  he  whirled  round  and  was 
within  an  ace  of  losing  his  balance.  Before  he 
could  recover  himself,  another  ball  shot  by,  straight 
and  swift. 

"Two  strikes,"  cried  the  umpire. 

The  crowd  laughed;  George  tried  to  look  easy, 
and  Tom  stepped  up  behind  the  bat. 

George  struck  at  the  next  ball,  but  he  was  too 
slow,  and  walked  away  wearing  the  hollow  mask  of 
a  smile;  while  the  crowd,  always  in  favor  of  the 
smaller  boy,  applauded  lustily. 

Shane  next  came  to  the  bat,  only  to  go  out  on  a 
foul,  captured  on  the  run  by  Henry  Conly.  Pitch 
followed  with  an  easy  bounder  to  the  pitcher,  and, 
amid  lifting  of  voices  and  casting  of  caps,  the  Red 
Clippers  took  the  field. 

Harry  opened  the  innings  for  his  side  by  popping 
up  an  easy  fly  back  of  the  pitcher,  and  before  reach- 
ing first  base,  changed  his  mind  and  went  for  a  drink 
of  water.  Tom  now  advanced  to  the  bat  and,  after 
two  strikes,  knocked  a  sharp  grounder  to  Pitch,  who 
was  covering  short.  As  the  ball  went  through 
Pitch's  legs,  Tom  ran  to  second.  Then  arose  a 
shout  of  triumph  from  the  crowd,  as  Joe  Whyte 
drove  a  low  liner  straight  over  third,  earning  second 
for  himself  and  bringing  in  Tom.  Willie  Ruthers 
gave  variety  to  this  stage  of  the  game  by  striking 
out.  Aldine  followed  with  a  high  fly  toward  short. 
Pitch,  and  Conway,  who  played  third,  both  ran  for 
it;  a  collision  followed,  and  ball,  third  baseman, 
and  short  stop  rolled  in  three  several  directions. 

"You  idiot!  What  did  you  do  that  for?"  Pitch 
blurted. 


TOM   PL  A  YF AIR.  215 

"Who?  me?"  inquired  Conway,  as  he  picked  him- 
self up  and  began  rubbing  his  head. 

"Yes,  you!" 

'Oh,  I  thought  you  were  talking  to  the  ball!  / 
couldn't  help  it.  I  wouldn't  strike  against  your 
head  for  a  fortune,  if  I  could  help  myself." 

Taking  advantage  of  this  altercation,  Joe,  who 
had  stolen  third,  ran  home.  The  next  batter,  Harry 
Underwood,  knocked  a  vicious  grounder  between  first 
and  second,  but  John  Donnel  was  there  and  threw 
him  out  with  ease. 

My  base-ball  readers  must  have  already  perceived 
Tom's  motive  in  training  his  men  to  turn  on  the 
ball.  The  weak  points  of  the  Red  Clippers  were 
third  and  short. 

In  the  second  inning,  after  a  three-bagger  by 
Donnel,  Conway  made  a  clean  hit,  and  sent  John 
home.  Presently,  Conway  saw  a  good  chance  to 
steal  second;  the  baseman  was  playing  far  off  his 
bag.  Just  as  soon,  then,  as  the  pitcher  delivered 
his  ball,  Conway  made  a  bold  dash  for  second  and 
thereby  fell  into  one  of  Tom's  snares.  The  short- 
stop of  the  Knickerbockers  was  there,  caught  the 
ball  from  Tom,  and  touched  the  runner  out. 

In  their  half  of  the  second  inning,  Tom's  nine 
covered  themselves  with  honors,  and  their  opponents, 
especially  Pitch  and  Conway,  with  errors.  The 
third  and  fourth  innings  brought  two  runs  on  each 
side. 

In  the  fifth,  Pitch,  who  had  lost  his  head,  let  sev- 
eral slow  grounders  pass  him,  while  Conway  dropped 
a  fly  and  muffed  two  thrown  balls — errors  which, 
coupled  with  two  base  hits,  yielded  the  Knicker- 
bockers four  runs.  In  the  sixth  inning,  consequently, 


216  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

these  two  worthies  were  ordered  to  take  positions  in 
the  out-field. 

"  If  that's  the  way  you  treat  a  fellow,  I  won't 
play,"  growled  Pitch,  putting  on  his  coat. 

"And  I  want  plaster  for  my  head,"  added  Con- 
way,  putting  on  his. 

"Let's  not  play  any  more  to-day,"  said  Donnel, 
at  this  juncture.  "We're  done  up,  and  we  might 
as  well  give  in  gracefully,  before  we  begin  fighting 
among  ourselves." 

The  suggestion  was  good;  the  Red  Clippers, 
beaten  in  the  field,  outwitted  at  the  bat,  and  jeered 
at  by  the  crowd,  were  indeed  in  no  condition  to 
continue.  Jones  perceived  this,  and  wisely  con- 
cluded to  follow  Donnel's  advice. 

Thereupon  he  held  a  short  whispered  consultation 
with  Tom,  apart,  and,  turning  to  the  scorer,  called 
for  the  score. 

'Knickerbockers,  7;  Red  Clippers,  3, "roared  the 
scorer. 

Tumultuous  applause  from  the  sympathetic  audi- 
ence, hand-springs  and  hand-shakes  from  the  vic- 
torious players. 

'Playfair,"  said  Ryan,  the  captain  of  the  senior 
club  of  the  college,  "  I've  been  here  four  years,  and, 
honestly,  I've  never  seen  a  club  better  trained  than 
yours.  You  little  fellows  deserved  to  win  that 
game,  you  went  about  it  so  neatly." 

Ryan's  words  voiced  the  general  opinion. 

Tom's  training  had  indeed  been  successful.  On 
one  occasion  during  the  game,  the  umpire  called 
Will  Ruthers  out  at  second  when  he  was  manifestly 
safe;  but  not  by  the  least  word  or  look  did  Ruthers 
or  any  one  of  his  side  show  dissatisfaction.  So  it 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  217 

was  during  the  entire  contest,  while  Jones  and  Pitch 
and  Conway  made  it  disagreeable  for  the  umpire  by 
constant  quibbling  and  growling,  the  Knickerbock- 
ers, to  a  man,  cheerfully  accepted  his  every  ruling. 
This  is  but  one  point  of  their  training;  but  it  is  a 
point  which  I  enlarge  upon  for  the  simple  reason 
that  so  few  college  teams  set  any  importance  upon 
it.  And  yet  this  point,  if  attended  to,  makes  base- 
ball a  training-school  for  wondrous  self-command, 
and  gives  the  game  a  dignity  well  befitting  a  nation's 
choice. 


CHAPTER   XXIV. 

TROUBLE    AHEAD. 

TOM'S  improvement  was  not  limited  to  base-ball. 
In  class  and  out,  he  advanced  steadily.  Noth- 
ing, perhaps,  had  so  helped  him  as  his  choice  of 
friends.  From  among  all  the  boys  of  the  small 
yard,  he  had  selected  as  his  chums  Harry  Quip, 
Willie  Ruthers,  Joe  Whyte,  and  James  Aldine. 

Harry  Quip,  mischief-loving  though  he  was,  had 
a  great  amount  of  practical,  common-sense  piety. 
No  one  enjoyed  a  joke  or  a  laugh  more  heartily  than 
he,  but  he  knew  where  to  draw  the  line.  He  was 
easy  of  disposition;  in  fact,  a  superficial  knowledge 
of  him  might  bring  one  to  think  he  was  easily  led. 
In  regard  to  indifferent  matters  this  was  quite  true. 
Harry  would  rather  yield  than  quarrel.  But  when 
it  came  to  a  choice  between  right  and  wrong,  he 
was  firm  as  a  rock. 

One  instance  will  give  an  idea  of  Harry's  method 
on  such  occasions, 


2i8  TOM    PLAY  FAIR. 

During  the  preceding  vacation  he  was  thrown  in 
with  the  boys  of  his  neighborhood. 

Shortly  after  his  return  from  St.  Maure's,  he  was 
conversing  with  some  of  them,  when  one  began  nar- 
rating what  he  considered  a  very  good  story  indeed. 

Harry  saw  the  drift  of  it.  'I  say,  boys,"  he 
interrupted,  "the  air  is  getting  too  strong  for  me 
around  here.  I  guess  I'll  take  a  walk." 

To  his  gratification,  three  of  the  little  lads  mus- 
tered up  courage  to  leave  with  him.  The  joke  was 
left  unfinished,  and  whenever  Harry  Quip  joined 
the  boys  the  conversation  was  entirely  proper. 
Indeed,  before  vacation  had  ended,  the  ethical 
standard  of  his  companions  had  risen  by  many 
degrees. 

Willie  Ruthers  and  Joe  Whyte  were  bright,  pleas- 
ant little  lads,  reflecting  the  virtues  of  their  heroes, 
Harry  and  Tom. 

James  Aldine  was  something  more  than  an  ordi- 
narily pious  boy.  The  younger  students  of  St. 
Maure's  College  actually  revered  him,  and  called 
him  the  "  saint. "  He  was  remarkable  for  gentleness. 
But  his  gentleness  was  made  of  stronger  stuff  than 
the  term  usually  implies.  His  meek  little  ways 
wrought  wonders  upon  Tom  and  Harry.  They 
seemed  unconsciously  to  catch  his  gentleness,  and 
soon  joined  with  him  in  little  devotions  that  touched 
and  refined  their  lives  into  spiritual  beauty.  Tom 
was  often  overawed  by  Jimmy's  piety. 

"Say,  Harry,"  he  remarked  one  day,  "that  Jimmy 
Aldine's  got  more  praying  and  piety  in  his  little 
finger  than  you  and  I  have  in  our  prayer-books  and 
whole  bodies  put  together.  Did  you  notice  him  last 
Sunday  after  Holy  Communion  ?  His  face  was  a§ 


TOM   PLAYFAfR.  219 

bright  as — as — anything,  and  I  watched  him  till  he 
looked  like  a  saint  in  a  picture;  and  I  expected 
every  minute  that  a  pretty  gold  crown  would  shine 
around  his  head  and  a  pair  of  spangled  wings  would 
crop  from  his  shoulders,  and  he'd  go  off  sailing  up 
to  heaven,  leaving  you  and  me  to  fight  it  out,  and 
even  then  find  it  hard  to  behave  half  decently." 

Evidently  Tom  had  an  imagination.  Had  he 
been  older,  he  would  have  put  his  idea  into  verse 
and  published  it. 

One  of  the  first  friendly  secrets  that  Tom  imparted 
to  James  Aldine  was  the  story  of  his  deferred  First 
Communion.  James  took  as  much  interest  in  Tom's 
preparation  as  Tom  himself;  and  on  recreation  days, 
when  they  walked  out  together  over  the  lonely  prai- 
ries, he  would  speak  so  lovingly  of  Our  Saviour  in  the 
Blessed  Sacrament,  that  his  companion,  like  the 
disciples  on  the  road  to  Emmaus,  felt  his  heart 
burning  within  him. 

On  November  the  eighth  two  things  came  to 
pass,  both  bearing  closely  upon  the  fates  and  for- 
tunes of  our  five  little  lads. 

On  that  morning  a  cheering  fire  lighted  up  the 
windows  of  Mr.  John  Aldine's  home,  on  the  outskirts 
of  the  village  of  .Merlin.  Within,  a  pleasant-featured 
woman  was  busily  setting  the  tea-table.  Beside  the 
fire,  a  child,  who  had  just  emerged  from  babyhood, 
was  critically  and  dispassionately  examining  into 
the  merits  of  a  picture  book. 

A  brisk  step  was  heard  without,  the  door  opened, 
and  a  man  entered. 

"Papa!  papa!"  screamed  the  child,  clapping  his 
little  hands  with  glee  and  running  toward  the 
new-comer. 


220  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

"Well,  little  Touzle,"  said  Mr.  Aldine,  raising 
the  child  in  his  arms  and  kissing  him,  "  and  how 
are  you,  Kate  ?"  he  continued,  affectionately  greet- 
ing his  wife.  '  We  must  be  happy  to-night.  I  have 
succeeded  well  to-day  in  my  law  matters;  and,  best 
of  all,  I  have  a  letter  from  James." 

'  Hurrah !"  cried  Touzle,  dancing  about  his  papa's 
legs,  to  the  no  small  inconvenience  of  that  gentle- 
man, who  was  trying  to  divest  himself  of  his  great- 
coat, "  letter  from  Dimmy!  how's  brudder  Dimmy  ? 
Tell  Touzle  all  about  it,  papa." 

Mrs.  Aldine,  though  not  so  demonstrative  as 
Touzle,  was  no  less  anxious  to  hear  the  contents  of 
the  letter. 

"Sit  down,  my  dear,  by  the  fire,"  she  said,  "and 
when  you  feel  perfectly  cosy,  let  us  all  together  hear 
what  our  darling  has  written." 

Mr.  Aldine,  be  it  observed,  never  opened  the 
letters  from  his  boy  but  with  his  wife  beside  him. 
It  was  a  delicate  attention,  and  a  very  small  thing, 
it  may  be,  but  take  the  small  things  out  of  life,  and 
we  have  little  left  but  murders  and  bank  robberies. 

'Well,  here  goes!"  said  Mr.  Aldine,  as  he  opened 
the  envelope  and  spread  out  the  letter. 

ST.  MAURE'S  COLLEGE,  November  4th. 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  John  Aldine. 
MY  DEAR  PARENTS: — 

A  knock  at  the  door,  so  sharp,  so  vicious,  as  to 
cause  Mrs.  Aldine  to  start  violently,  and  Touzle  to 
jump  with  great  alacrity  from  his  father's  knee,  here 
interrupted  the  reading. 

"Come  in,"  said  Mr.  Aldine. 

Touzle.  took  refuge  behind  his  mother's  skirts,  as 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  221 

a  short,  dark,  ill-featured  man,  with  bristling  black 
whiskers,  entered  the  room.  For  a  moment  Mr. 
Aldine  gazed  at  the  stranger  in  some  perplexity. 

'It's  Mr.  Hartnett,  who  has  called  several  times 
in  your  absence  to  inquire  for  James,"  whispered 
Mrs.  Aldine. 

'  Oh,  pardon  me,  Mr.  Hartnett,"  cried  Mr.  Aldine, 
advancing  and  shaking  his  visitor's  hand.  "  I 
ought  to  know  your  face  by  this  time.  Sit  down." 

'Well,"  Mr.  Hartnett  made  answer,  as  he  seated 
himself,  "  I  can't  blame  you  for  not  knowing  me,  for 
although  I  have  called  on  you  several  times  I  have 
always  missed  you." 

'I  thank  you,  sir,  for  your  goodness,"  said  Mr. 
Aldine,  "  and  especially  for  the  interest  which  I 
understand  you  take  in  my  boy." 

'Won't  you  take  tea  with  us?"  asked  the  wife. 

'Thanks,  with  pleasure;  it's  chilly  outside,  and 
a  cup  of  tea  isn't  such  a  bad  thing  in  this  weather. 
By  the  way,  have  you  heard  from  the  boy  lately? 
You  can't  imagine  what  an  interest  I  take  in  him. 
I  met  him  once  or  twice  and  am  convinced  that  he'll 
one  day  make  his  mark." 

'We  have  just  received  a  letter  from  him,"  said 
Mr.  Aldine,  highly  pleased — as  what  father  would 
not  be? — at  these  praises  of  his  boy,  "and,  perhaps, 
if  I  read  a  little  of  it  to  you,  you  may  not  take  it 


amiss.' 


'My  dear  sir,"  said  Hartnett  with  much  warmth, 
'you  are  too  good;  I  shall  be  delighted.  Touzle, 
you  little  rogue,"  he  said  to  the  child,  "come  here 
and  look  at  my  pretty  watch." 

But  Touzle,  who  had  thus  far  persistently  clung 
to  his  mother's  skirts,  was  not  to  be  tempted  from 


222  TOM  PLA  YFA1R. 

behind  his  intrenchments.  With  his  great,  round 
eyes  staring  severely  on  Mr.  Hartnett,  he  neither 
spoke  nor  moved.  It  is  said  that  little  children 
have  an  instinctive  knowledge  of  good  and  bad  peo- 
ple. Whether  this  be  true  or  not,  it  is  certain  that 
Touzle  had  decided  views  relative  to  Mr.  Hartnett, 
and  by  no  means  favorable  to  that  person. 

"  Here's  the  way  the  letter  runs,"  said  Mr.  Aldine: 

MY  DEAR  PARENTS  : — I  am  so  glad  to  learn  that  you  are 
well,  and  that  dear  little  Touzle  is  happy— 

"Hurrah!"  cried  Touzle  in  parenthesis. 

— I  am  very  happy  here,  and  like  the  boys  very  much. 
Most  of  them  are  very  good  and  kind,  and  only  a  few  are  mean. 
I  like  my  prefects  very  much — my  professor  is  just  splendid.  I 
think  he  can  teach  more  in  a  week  than  most  other  teachers  in 
a  year.  And  now,  my  dear  parents,  I  want  to  tell  you  some- 
thing I  have  long  kept  secret. 

"  Halloa!  what  is  this?"  said  Mr.  Aldine,  knitting 
his  brows,  and  reading  what  followed  to  himself. 
He  did  not  notice  that  Mr.  Hartnett's  face  changed 
color,  and  that  his  right  hand  was  quickly  thrust 
into  his  side  pocket  and  remained  there.  For  a 
moment  there  was  silence,  an  awful  silence — had 
the  little  family  but  known  the  thoughts  of  their 
visitor! 

"  Why,  this  is  strange !"  said  Mr.  Aldine,  at  length. 
"  He  says  that  he  is  the  only  witness  of  a  crime 
which  he  had  sworn  never  to  confess." 

"What  crime?"  asked  Hartnett. 

'He  doesn't  say;  but  promises  to  tell  me  about 
it  when  I  come  to  see  him  Christmas." 

Mr.  Hartnett's  hand  returned  from  his  pocket,  and 
with  a  forced  laugh,  he  said: 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  223 

"Oh,  indeed!  Perhaps  it'll  turn  out  to  be  a  reg- 
ular romance."  At  the  harsh  merriment  of  the  vis- 
itor, Mrs.  Aldine  could  not  refrain  from  shuddering. 
Touzle  hid  himself  entirely  from  view. 

"Well,  it's  drawing  on  late,"  resumed  Hartnett, 
hastily  drinking  his  tea,  "and  I'd  better  be  going." 
Awkwardly  enough  he  took  his  departure. 

"  Dear  John,"  said  Mrs.  Aldine,  as  the  door  closed 
upon  him,  "  I  don't  trust  that  man.  Somehow  I  fear 
he  means  us  no  good." 

"You  think  so?"  said  Mr.  Aldine,  in  surprise. 
"I  do,  indeed." 

"  He's  a  bad,  teaman,"  said  Touzle,  stamping  his 
foot. 

"Well,  I'll  keep  my  eyes  open;  that's  all  I  car 
do,"  said  the  strong-nerved  husband. 

Their  suspicions  would  have  been  confirmed  had 
they  seen  Hartnett  standing  a  few  yards  from  their 
door,  his  clinched  hands  raised  in  imprecation  upon 
their  happy  home. 

About  midnight,  Hartnett  issued  from  his  lonely 
house,  valise  in  hand,  and  set  off  rapidly  down  the 
public  road.  He  was  never  again  seen  in  Merlin. 

At  St.  Maure's,  on  this  same  day,  Tom  was  made 
the  happiest  boy  at  college — and  that  is  saying  a 
good  deal — by  receiving  from  home  a  box  contain- 
ing, among  other  things,  a  rubber  coat,  a  pair  of 
Ice-King  club  skates,  and  a  fine  breech-loading  shot- 
gun for  hunting  purposes.  Luckily  it  was  recreation 
day,  and  Tom,  having  obtained  permission  of  the 
prefect  of  discipline,  joined  the  customary  hunting 
party,  of  which  James  Aldine  was  a  member.  Under 
his  friend's  direction  Tom  learned  very  fast.  His 
eyes  were  good,  his  nerves  strong.  To  his  great  joy 


224  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 

he  brought  down  a  duck  on  his  fourth  shot.  Tramp- 
ing through  the  woods  and  over  the  prairies,  stealing 
cautiously  up  to  game  under  cover  of  tree  and  bush, 
and  creeping  along  the  margin  of  lake  and  river, 
the  day  passed  quickly  indeed;  and  Tom,  with  three 
ducks  in  his  hunting  pouch,  returned  to  college  jubi- 
lant. Before  retiring,  he  had  arranged  with  Harry, 
Willie,  James,  and  Joe  to  go  on  an  all-day  hunt  that 
day  a  week. 


CHAPTER   XXV. 

A  JOYOUS  GOING  FORTH,  AND  A   SAD  JOURNEY  HOME. 

A  MID-NOVEMBER  morning,  cold,  blustering, 
gloomy,  the  day  of  the  great  hunt.  Shortly 
after  breakfast,  five  little  lads  scampered  to  the 
gun-room,  and  arming  themselves  according  to  the 
hunting  traditions  of  St.  Maure's,  set  out  across  the 
prairie  in  the  direction  of  Pawnee  Creek. 

"Well,  I'm  glad  it's  cold,"  Tom  remarked  as  they 
got  clear  of  the  college  premises.  '  A  boy  enjoys 
walking  more  in  this  kind  of  weather.  He  doesn't 
feel  like  standing  around  doing  nothing." 

"And  I'm  glad  it's  cloudy,"  said  Harry  Quip, 
"  because  we  aren't  in  any  danger  of  spoiling  our 
complexions." 

"  Every  kind  of  weather  is  good,"  said  James. 

"Yes,  even  hot  weather,"  remarked  Willie  Ruth- 
ers.  "  Dear  me,  there'd  heaps  of  folks  be  drowned 
if  it  wasn't  for  hot  weather,  because  no  one  would 
ever  learn  to  swim." 

"Yes,"  said  Harry,  his  eyes  twinkling,  "and  on 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  225 

the  same  principle  I  reckon  there  would  be  heaps  of 
folks  frozen  to  death  in  winter,  if  there  was  no  cold 
weather,  because  folks  wouldn't  learn  how  to  keep 
themselves  warm." 

Suddenly  James  Aldine  stopped  walking. 

"What's  the  matter?"  asked  Tom,  who  was  im- 
mediately behind  him. 

"You  are,  Tom.  Do  you  think  I'm  going  to 
walk  in  front  of  your  gun,  if  you  hold  it  with  the 
muzzle  pointing  where  my  brains  are  supposed  to  be  ?" 

"Oh,  what's  the  difference?     It  isn't  loaded." 

"That's  not  certain.  And,  besides,  I  object  to  it 
on  principle.  My  father  has  often  told  me  never  to 
hunt  with  any  one  who  handles  a  gun  carelessly. 
Here,  now,  hold  it  this  way,  resting  on  your  arm; 
now,  should  it  go  off,  you  may  bring  down  a  cloud, 
if  your  gun  carries  that  far,  but  you  won't  hurt  any 
of  us." 

'Pshaw!"  growled  Tom,  as  he  complied  with  the 
request,  "I  thought  a  fellow  who  knew  as  much 
about  a  gun  as  you  wouldn't  be  afraid!" 

"Just  the  opposite;  the  more  you  know  about  a 
gun,  the  more  respect  you'll  have  for  it.  A  child, 
if  he  knows  how  to  use  a  gun,  is  the  equal  of  the 
strongest  man.  It  is  a  dreadful  weapon.  One  little 
load  in  it  may  carry  death  to  the  bravest." 

James  spoke  earnestly;  his  words  made  a  deep 
impression  on  Tom. 

At  this  point  the  conversation  was  cut  short  by 
the  appearance  of  a  rabbit,  which  James  despatched 
with  a  skilful  shot.  Game  was  plentiful  that  day, 
and  before  noon  Tom  succeeded  in  bagging  his  first 
rabbit,  along  with  a  plump  quail,  while  James 

secured  three  rabbits  and  several  birds. 
15 


226  TOM   PLAY  FAIR. 

Thus  wandering  along  the  banks  of  the  Pawnee 
in  the  direction  of  the  river,  they  stopped  shortly 
after  midday  at  the  skirts  of  the  woodland  which 
sweeps  along,  perhaps  a  quarter  of  a  mile  in  width, 
on  either  side  of  the  river,  and  partook  of  a  homely 
but  hearty  repast. 

The  boy  who,  after  being  on  his  feet  half  the 
day,  can  sit  down  to  a  meal  without  appetite  is  not 
worth  writing  about.  Our  little  party  are  worth 
writing  about,  indeed!  Cold  beefsteak,  ham, 
bread,  cakes,  and  apples  disappeared  with  wondrous 
rapidity. 

"  My!"  said  Tom,  "  I  wish  we'd  brought  more!" 

All  echoed  this  sentiment. 

"I  tell  you  what;  let's-  fix  up  a  rabbit,"  said 
Harry;  'we  can  build  a  fire  easily,  and  I'll  cook." 

The  suggestion  was  favorably  received,  and  in  a 
trice  James  was  preparing  the  rabbit  which  Tom 
had  brought  down;  Harry  was  lighting  a  fire,  while 
the  others  collected  sticks  and  dry  leaves.  They 
had  hardly  put  themselves  to  their  interesting  task, 
when  snow  began  to  fall. 

'Hurrah!"  cried  Harry,  jumping  to  his  feet,  and 
dancing  about  the  fire,  "we'll  have  a  snow  fort  in 
the  yard  to-morrow." 

"Hurrah!"  shouted  the  others,  and  all  began 
dancing  about  the  fire.  There  is  an  inexpressible 
charm  in  the  first  snowfall  of  the  year,  which  glori- 
fies a  boy;  every  tiny  little  messenger  falling  radi- 
ant, white-robed  from  the  skies  seems  to  whisper  a 
tale  of  glee  to  his  responsive  heart.  Round  and 
round  the  fire  the  lads  danced,  faster  and  faster, 
while  thicker  and  larger  fell  the  flakes.  Their 
dancing  might  have  been  prolonged  indefinitely, 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  227 

had  not  the  embers  given  warning  that  more  fuel 
was  needed. 

"Hold  on,  boys!"  cried  Tom,  who  had  just  failed 
in  an  attempt  to  execute  a  hand-spring,  "we  want 
more  wood,  Jimmy;  get   your  rabbit   ready  quick,' 
and  off  they  danced  in  different  directions. 

By  the  time  the  rabbit  was  cooked,  the  ground 
was  hidden  from  view. 

'  We'll  have  plenty  of  fun  going  home,"  remarked 
James,  as  they  again  fell  to. 

"  How's  that  ?"  asked  Joe. 

'Why,  we  can  track  rabbits  over  the  snow." 

"Hurrah  for  King  Winter!"  shouted  Tom  with 
fresh  exhilaration. 

"  I  wonder  when  we'll  have  another  meal  as  jolly 
as  this?"  queried  Harry. 

'Who  knows?"     This  from  James  Aldine. 

"I  say,"  said  Tom,  who  was  too  healthy  a  lad  to 
indulge  in  conjecture,  'I'd  rather  be  here  eating 
this  old  rabbit,  with  the  snow  getting  into  my  ears, 
than  at  a  turkey  and  ice-cream  dinner  in  the  most 
stylish  house." 

No  one  seemed  inclined  to  gainsay  this  statement ; 
and  a  few  minutes  later,  having  done  full  justice  to 
their  fare,  they  resumed  their  hunt,  each  one  peering 
in  every  direction  to  discover  rabbit  tracks. 

As  they  pushed  along,  Tom  noticed  that  James, 
who  was  lightly  clad,  shivered  occasionally. 

"Say,  Jim,  aren't  you  cold?  Here,  take  my  coat, 
I'm  too  warm  for  any  use." 

"No,  no!"  remonstrated  James;  "I'm  used  to 
being  out  in  the  cold." 

But  Tom  whipped  off  his  garment  before  James 
had  fairly  entered  his  protest,  and  with  his  grandest 


TOM   PLA  YFA1K. 

air  of  authority  made  his  friend  put  it  on.  Then, 
clad  in  his  sailor  jacket  and  knickerbockers,  the 
sturdy  young  Samaritan  trotted  on  as  comfortable 
in  his  light  attire  as  though  he  were  in  the  heats 
of  mid-summer.  Genuine  kindness  is  warmer  than 
any  coat. 

They  were  about  two  miles  to  the  northwest  of 
the  college  (two  and  one-half  from  the  village  of  St. 
Maure  beyond)  when  to  their  great  joy  they  came 
upon  the  long-looked-for  tracks.  On  they  ran  with 
new  energy,  but  coming  to  the  road,  over  which 
many  vehicles  must  have  passed,  they  were  brought 
to  a  sudden  halt.  The  prints  had  become  confused 
with  the  impress  of  wheels  and  horses'  hoofs. 

It  may  be  observed,  that  the  road  lay  between  the 
woods  skirting  the  river  and  a  long  strip  of  land 
known  as  the  valley,  which,  stretching  on  either 
side  of  the  railroad  track,  changed  gradually  into 
the  wild,  rolling  prairie. 

Tom  was  for  following  the  road,  Harry  for  mov- 
ing through  the  valley  on  toward  the  prairie,  while 
James  favored  taking  to  the  woods.  By  way  of 
compromise,  they  agreed  to  scatter,  each  following 
his  own  plan. 

So  Tom,  followed  by  Willie  and  Joe,  trotted  along 
briskly  some  ten  or  fifteen  minutes,  when  Joe,  out 
of  breath,  begged  him  to  slacken  his  pace.  Tom 
paused,  and  suddenly,  from  right  beneath  his  feet, 
a  rabbit  which  had  been  concealed  in  the  brushwood 
scampered  forth. 

Bang!  went  his  gun;  the  rabbit  fell  dead. 

"Ain't  I  getting  to  be  a  great  hunter!"  roared 
Tom  in  undisguised  admiration  at  himself.  "Wait 
one  moment,  boys,  till  I  load  up  again  Here  goes 


TOM  PLAY  FAIR.  229 

for  a  deadner!"  and  he  inserted  his  loaded  shell. 
'  There's  five  fingers  of  buck-shot  in  that, — enough 
to  kill  six  rabbits  standing  in  a  row." 

"I  say,  Tom,"  said  Willie,  "it's  getting  dark!" 

'So   it   is,"  assented  Tom,  taking  out  his  watch. 
'Why,  halloa!  it's  near  four  o'clock.     We'd  better 
get  ready  to  start  for  the  college,  or  we'll  come  late 
for  supper  and  get  fifty  lines  each  from  Mr.  Middle- 
ton.     Come  on,  we  must  find  the  other  boys." 

Vigorous  shouting  soon  brought  Harry  to  their 
side,  but  shout  as  they  might,  James  Aldine  gave 
no  sign  of  being  within  ear-shot.  Some  minutes 
passed, — darkness  was  coming  on  apace.  Joe  Why  to 
began  to  betray  signs  of  nervousness,  and  Willie 
Ruthers  caught  the  feeling.  Suddenly — it  was  an 
accidental  circumstance,  but  none  the  less  awkward 
— all  ceased  shouting,  and  the  hush  of  the  evening 
seemed  to  take  grim  possession  of  each.  Tom  was 
the  first  to  break  the  silence. 

'Well,  I  suppose  we'd  better  take  a  trot  into  the 
woods,"  he  observed. 

'Isn't  it  gloomy  and  silent  under  these  trees?" 
said  Joe,  as  they  picked  their  way  among  the  trees. 

"  Isn't  it,  though !"  said  Willie.  "  I  feel  as  though 
I  had  the  nightmare." 

As  they  plunged  into  the  woods  they  became  more 
and  more  solemn;  their  shoutings  had  ceased  en- 
tirely, and,  indeed,  they  hardly  spoke  above  a 
whisper.  The  gloom  and  grim  silence  of  the  white- 
armed  trees  had  exercised  a  spell  upon  them.  Sud- 
denly they  heard  a  sound  that  made  their  blood  run 
cold ;  it  was  a  groan. 

'Good  God!"  whispered  Tom,  crossing  himself, 
'but  that  sounded  like  Jimmy's  voice.     Come  on, 


230  TOM   PLA  YFAIR. 

boys  softly.  Don't  step  on  any  twigs,  but  pick 
your  steps.  I'm  afraid  Jimmy's  in  danger,  and  I 
have  reasons  you  don't  know  of;"  and  Tom,  as  he 
moved  forward,  followed  tremblingly  by  the  others, 
held  his  gun  at  full  cock. 

Another  groan  was  heard.  Tom's  face  became 
pale  as  death,  but  his  whole  expression  was  none 
the  less  determined.  Bending  low,  and  partially 
protected  from  view  by  the  bushes,  they  moved  on 
till  Tom  paused,  his  face  alive  with  horror,  stag- 
gered, but  recovered  himself  and  raised  his  hand  to 
the  others  in  warning. 

Judge  of  their  terror,  as,  in  obedience  to  Tom's 
gesture,  they  ranged  themselves  beside  him  and 
gazed  on  the  sight  that  had  so  stricken  him. 

In  a  pool  of  blood,  its  bright  red  color  contrasting 
so  frightfully  with  the  white  snow,  lay  James  Aldine. 
Above  him,  a  stained  dagger  in  his  hand,  stooped  a 
man, — dark,  sullen,  villanous,  with  the  unholy  light 
of  murder  in  his  sinister  eyes.  He  seemed  to  be 
examining  the  poor  child's  features,  as  though  to 
make  sure  that  he  was  dead. 

As  Tommy  gazed,  his  expression  changed  from 
horror  to  determination.  Making  a  slight  gesture 
to  his  companions  to  remain  quiet,  he  drew  up  his 
gun  and  covered  the  stranger.  Then,  advancing 
stealthily  to  within  a  few  feet  of  the  villain,  who 
was  facing  in  the  opposite  direction,  he  said  in  a 
clear,  ringing  voice: 

"  Drop  that  knife,  or  I  fire!" 

So  sudden  came  the  shock  upon  the  stranger,  that, 
as  he  turned,  his  nerveless  fingers  let  the  dagger  fall 
to  the  earth,  while  his  face  assumed  a  look  of  the 
most  extreme  terror, 


TOM   PLAY  FAIR.  ^3J 

"  Raise  your  hands  above  your  head,  at  once,  of 
I  fire,"  continued  Tom,  in  the  same  inflexible  tones. 
The  gun,  pointed  direct  at  the  man's  breast,  was 
as  steady  in  the  child's  hands  as  though  it  were  held 
by  a  statue. 

The  determined  face  of  the  boy  utterly  cowed  the 
man.  Up  went  his  hands  without  delay. 

"Now,  sir,  take  that  path  right  behind  you  and 
go  straight  on  at  a  steady  walk  till  you  come  to  the 
road  leading  to  St.  Maure's;  and  I  give  you  my 
word  that  if  you  attempt  to  move  from  the  path, 
put  down  your  hands,  or  turn  around,  I  will  shoot 
you  at  once.  I  know  you,  Mr.  Hartnett  [at  the 
name  the  man's  face  put  on  new  terror],  and  I  know 
that  this  is  not  your  first  murder.  Now,  turn  round 
and  walk  straight  on." 

"Take  down  that  gun,"  chattered  Hartnett;  "it 
might  go  off  accidentally." 

"  It  will  go  off  if  you  don't  do  what  I  tell  you." 

Completely  mastered,  the  man  turned  and  movi  1 
forward,  keeping  Tom's  directions  to  the  letter. 
Boy  though  his  captor  was,  Hartnett  perceived  that 
he  was  dealing  with  a  man,  as  far  as  determination 
went,  and  a  very  determined  man  at  that. 

As  Tom,  preceded  by  his  captive,  moved  toward 
the  village,  Harry,  Willie,  and  Joe  raised  James 
from  the  ground,  wrapped  him  in  their  coats,  and 
tenderly  bore  him  toward  the  college. 

It  were  vain  to  attempt  portraying  adequately  the 
state  of  Tom's  mind  as  he  tramped  steadily  on  after 
the  murderer.  His  imagination  never  wandered; 
his  whole  being  was  fused  into  the  determination  to 
bring  that  man  to  justice.  The  road  was  lonely 
and  deserted;  not  a  sound  smote  the  stillness;  the 


232  TOM  PL  A  YFAIR. 

minutes  passed  on  into  the  quarters,  but  the  steady 
tread  of  captor  and  captive  beat  equal  and  silent 
upon  the  yielding  snow;  the  heavy  gun  covered  its 
object  as  though  supported  by  muscles  of  steel; 
sensation,  fear,  hope, — all  were  kept  in  abeyance  to 
Tom's  present  purpose.  The  blinding  snow  dimmed 
not  his  eyes,  the  cold  stiffened  not  a  limb.  Whether 
it  was  a  minute,  an  hour,  or  a  day  that  the  stern 
tramp  lasted,  Tom  could  never  have  told.  His 
senses,  concentrated  to  a  single  purpose,  were  dead 
to  all  else  till  the  village  was  reached,  and  crowds 
of  men  came  thronging  around  him  and  his  prisoner. 

Then  speech  and  his  normal  activities  returned. 

"Arrest  this  man,"  he  said;    'he  is  a  murderer!" 

Strong  hands  were  laid  upon  Hartnett;  Tom's 
gun  slipped  from  his  grasp,  a  mist  swam  before  his 
eyes. 

'My  brave  boy,"  said  a  gentleman,  catching  his 
hand,  "  you  must  be  cold,  and  worn  out  too.  Let 
me  put  my  coat  about  you." 

"Thank  you,  sir,"  said  Tom. 

Then  he  staggered,  blood  issued  from  mouth  and 
nose,  and  he  fell  into  the  gentleman's  arms  senseless. 


CHAPTER   XXVI. 

SICKNESS. 

DR.  MULLAN'S  face  was  graver  than  usual  as  he 
issued  that  evening  from  the  college  infirmary 
in  the  company  of  the  reverend  President. 

'  Both  are  critical   cases,  Father,  and,    indeed,  I 
have  more  fears  for  that  brave  little  Playfair  than 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  233 

for  the  other.  Aldine's  wounds  are  not  necessarily 
fatal;  a  good  constitution  will  probably  bring  him 
through.  But  the  little  hero  is  in  danger  of  some- 
thing worse  than  death.  The  strain  upon  his  mind, 
the  force  of  his  emotions,  the  terrible  ordeal  to 
which  his  most  remarkable  will-power  has  subjected 
him,  have  thrown  him  into  a  high  fever.  He  may 
recover,  but,  even  then,  his  mind  may  be  impaired 
or  his  nerves  shattered  for  life." 

"God  forbid!"  said  the  President.  "Do  you  con- 
sider it  advisable  to  write  for  the  relatives  of 
either?" 

"Well,  it  would  be  no  harm  to  send  for  Aldine's 
people;  but  as  for  Playfair,  there's  time  enough. 
We  had  better  wait  till  we  see  how  his  case  turns." 

Both  little  sufferers  were  in  a  private  room,  re- 
moved from  the  common  ward  of  the  infirmary. 
James  Aldine,  weak,  pale,  hardly  conscious,  was 
lying  on  his  uninjured  side, — now  and  then  giving 
forth  a  feeble  moan  of  pain.  In  another  part  of  the 
room  lay  Tom,  his  cheeks  flushed  with  fever,  his 
eyes  bright  and  wild.  Harry  sat  beside  him  and 
occasionally  bathed  his  forehead.  Whenever  the 
infirmarian  approached,  Tom  would  shiver  with 
horror,  and  would  beg  Harry,  whom  he  called  by 
the  name  of  some  former  acquaintance,  to  take  that 
man  away,  for  he  was  a  murderer,  there  was  blood 
upon  his  hands, — could  they  not  see  the  blood? — 
there  was  murder  in  his  every  look. 

About  seven  o'clock  in  the  evening,  when  the 
college  boys  had  been  safely  housed  in  their  respect- 
ive study-rooms,  Mr.  Middleton,  Tom's  teacher, 
prefect,  and  dear  friend,  entered  the  room,  and, 
strangely  enough,  Tom  recognized  him  at  once, 


234  TOM   PLA  YFAIR. 


"Oh,  Mr.  Middleton,"  he  cried,  "will  you  help 
me?" 

"  Certainly,  my  dear  boy,"  said  the  prefect,  grasp- 
ing the  fevered  hands  entreatingly  extended  to  him, 
u  what  can  I  do  for  you?" 

"Come  close  to  me,"  said  Tom,  'I  don't  want 
them  to  hear  it.  See  them  all  watching  me,"  he 
cried,  pointing  around  the  room.  'They  are  all  in 
the  crime.  Stoop  down,  Mr.  Middleton,  I  want  to 
whisper  to  you." 

The  prefect  bent  low. 

"They  want  to  kill  Jimmy,  and  they've  poisoned 
me,  so's  I  can't  help  him;  but  you'll  take  my  place, 
won't  you  ?" 

"Yes,  yes,  Tommy;  rely  upon  it,  no  one  shall 
touch  a  hair  of  his  head." 

"And,  Mr.  Middleton,  I'm  going  to  make  my 
First  Communion  to-morrow.  It's  Christmas,  you 
know,  and  I've  waited — oh,  so  long!" 

"Not  to-morrow,  Tom." 

The  fevered  patient  took  no  notice  of  this  answer. 

"Where  is  Jimmy  now?"  asked  Tom,  presently. 

"  There  he  is  lying  on  that  bed." 

Tom  raised  himself  and  looked  in  the  direction 
indicated.  Then  a  strange,  perplexed  expression 
came  upon  him,  as  though  the  true  ideas  of  what 
had  so  lately  happened  were  striving  vainly  to 
square  with  the  wild  vagaries  of  his  fever.  Ex- 
hausted by  the  mental  conflict,  he  fell  back  and, 
still  holding  tightly  the  prefect's  hand,  closed  his 
eyes. 

Toward  nine  o'clock  that  night,  as  Willie  Ruthers 
was  sitting  beside  the  other  sufferer,  James  recovered 
from  his  stupor, 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  235 

"Willie,"  he  said,  "how  did  Tommy  come  to  be 
sick?" 

Willie  told  him  the  story  of  Tom's  heroism,  and 
of  the  high  fever  which  the  exposure  and  mental 
strain  had  brought  on  him.  The  listener's  eyes 
filled  with  tears  of  gratitude  to  his  brave  companion, 
but  on  hearing  of  Tom's  great  danger,  his  face  grew 
troubled. 

"Tom  is  a  real  hero,"  he  said,  "and  I  shall  pray 
for  him  night  and  day,  that  he  may  get  well." 

Next  morning  all  the  students  were  unusually 
subdued.  Gathered  together  in  knots,  Tom's  brav- 
ery was  the  subject  of  universal  panegyric;  while 
all,  even  the  most  flighty,  were  concerned  at  his 
danger. 

At  all  times,  Harry,  \Villie,  and  Joe  were  at  the 
side  of  their  friends.  Nothing  could  exceed  their 
devotedness.  Ever  and  anon  Aldine's  face  quiv- 
ered with  pain,  but  there  constantly  dwelt  upon 
it  a  gentle  expression  of  resignation.  The  doctor 
was  satisfied  with  his  symptoms.  Tom's  case  seemed 
to  trouble  him  more. 

Toward  evening  of  the  second  day  after  the 
hunting  expedition,  a  lady  entered  and,  kneeling 
beside  James,  covered  his  face  with  kisses. 

"Don't  be  troubled,  mamma,"  said  James,  hold- 
ing her  hand  tenderly,  "I  am  not  suffering  much; 
indeed  I  am  not.  Tom  is  in  danger,  and  you  must 
pray  for  him." 

Mrs.  Aldine,  who  had  heard  the  whole  story, 
presently  went  over  to  Tom.  The  poor  child,  who 
had  been  tossing  restlessly  all  day,  started  up  on 
seeing  her,  his  face  softened  with  joy. 

'*  Qh,  mamma,"  he  cried,  "why  didn't  you 


236  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

to  me  before?  Come  to  me,  mamma,  and  stay  with 
me  always."  He  tenderly  embraced  Mrs.  Aldine — 
his  mother,  poor  child,  was  in  heaven.  'Mamma," 
he  continued,  "there's  something  I'm  so  anxious 
to  tell  you.  I'm  to  make  my  First  Communion 
Christmas,  and  you  must  pray  for  me  that  I  do  it 
well.  I  used  to  be  very  wild  at  home,  but  I  think 
that  I  am  not  quite  as  I  used  to  be.  I've  worked 
hard  to  change,  and  it  is  partly  on  your  account, 
mamma.  I  know  that  you've  been  praying  for  me 
ever  since  you  went  to  heaven;  and  I  remember 
what  you  said  to  me  just  before  you  died.  They 
want  to  poison  me  before  I  can  make  it.  But  poison 
doesn't  hurt  me.  I'm  used  to  it  now.  I'm  glad 
I'm  sick.  You  can't  fool  me;  I  know  I'm  sick; 
and  it's  just  as  easy  to  keep  from  sin  if  you're  in 
bed  as  it  is  anywhere  else.  Easier;  I'd  commit 
murder,  maybe,  if  I  were  out.  I'd  shoot — shoot — 
shoot-  '  and  Tom  ended  this  strange  monologue 
with  jumping  up  into  a  sitting  posture  and  clinching 
his  hands,  while  his  eyes  flashed  in  fury. 

About  sundown  he  changed  for  the  worse.  He 
shrieked  and  cried,  and  could  hardly  be  held  down 
in  his  bed.  Toward  midnight  the  doctor  was  sum- 
moned. 

"If  his  delirium  lasts  above  twenty-four  hours, 
his  case,  I  fear,  is  hopeless." 

On  hearing  this,  James  called  Willie,  Joe,  and 
Harrv  to  his  bedside. 

•i 

"  Boys,  I  want  you  to  join  me  in  prayer,"  he  said. 
"  I  have  made  God  a  promise  if  He  cures  Tom.  It 
may  not  be  His  holy  will  to  cure  him;  but  let  us 
unite  in  prayer." 

Led  by  James,   the  boys,    in   low,  fervent  tones, 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  237 

recited  decade  after  decade  to  the  Blessed  Mother; 
while  Tom,  hanging  between  life  and  death,  was 
soothed  and  restrained  in  his  paroxysms  by  the  kind 
hands  of  Mrs.  Aldine  and  Mr.  Middleton. 


CHAPTER   XXVII. 

DEA  TH. 

IT  was  ten  o'clock  of  the  following  day.  Tom's 
raving  had  gradually  lessened.  As  the  hours 
wore  on  he  became  quiet,  till  at  length,  for  the  first 
time  since  the  eventful  Thursday,  he  fell  asleep. 

"His  life  is  saved,"  said  the  doctor;  'but  the 
danger  to  his  mind  is  not  yet  over.  All  now  lies  in 
the  hands  of  God." 

;'  So  much  the  more  reason  for  our  praying,"  said 
James.  "  Come  on,  boys,"  he  continued,  addressing 
his  three  friends,  "  let  us  take  heaven  by  storm!' 

Morning  waned  into  afternoon,  afternoon  shaded 
into  night,  and  still  Tom  slumbered.  Standing 
about  his  bed,  Mr.  Middleton,  Mrs.  Aldine,  and  the 
three  boys  anxiously  watched  the  face  of  the  sleeper. 

A  little  after  eight  in  the  evening  Tom's  breath- 
ing changed.  He  opened  his  eyes.  All  stood  with 
bated  breath,  awaiting  his  first  words. 

After  gazing  about  vacantly  for  some  seconds,  he 
stretched  out  his  arms,  gave  a  low  sigh,  and  said, 
'  Good  gracious!  I'm  all  broken  up!" 

There  was  a  smile  upon  every  face;  the  tone  was 
so  natural,  so  like  Tom. 

'  Tom,  old  boy,  don't  you  know  me  ?"  cried  Harry, 
unable  to  restrain  himself. 

"I  rather  think  I  do.      Why  shouldn't  I?     But 


238  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

what's  the  matter  with  you  all  ?  I'm  not  a  museum, 
ami?  You're  all  staring  at  me  so!  And  where  in 
the  world  am  I,  and  what's  the  matter  with  my 
head?  It  feels  as  light  as  a  balloon!" 

"Do  you  know,  Tommy,"  said  Mr.  Middleton, 
"that  you've  been  sick  for  several  days?  Very 
sick,  indeed?" 

"  Let  me  think,"  said  Tom,  passing  his  hand  over 
his  brow.  "We  were  out  hunting,  and  when  we 
came  to  the  place  where  poor  Jimmy  was  stabbed — 
we — we — what  did  we  do,  anyhow?  Did  I  fall 
down?  And  did  that  man  try  to  murder  me?  And 
what's  become  of  Jimmy?" 

"Here  I  am,  Tom,"  cried  James,  who  was  sitting 
np  in  his  bed  and  literally  brimming  over  with  joy. 
"I'm  all  right,  and  so  are  you.  You  brought  that 
murderer  to  jail.  Don't  you  remember?" 

"What— what  did  I  do?"  Tom  inquired. 

"Listen,"  said  Harry,  and  with  no  little  astonish- 
ment Tom  heard  his  famous  adventure  narrated. 

"Well,  well,  dear  me!"  he  said  at  the  conclusion, 
"  it  may  be  all  true,  but  there's  one  little  question 
I'd  like  to  ask." 

"Ask  away,"  said  Harry  cheerfully. 

"Well,  I'd  like  to  know  if  I  was  there  when  I  did 
all  that?" 

All  laughed  at  the  serio-comic  way  in  which  Tom 
put  this  query.  In  truth,  his  question,  under  the 
circumstances,  was  not  extraordinary;  nor  is  Tom 
the  only  one  who  has  been  puzzled  by  the  mystery 
of  his  own  identity. 

"Tom,"  said  Mrs.  Aldine,  when  the  invalid  had 
heard  a  full  account  of  his  recent  doings,  "don't 
you  know  me?" 


TOM  PL  A  YFAIR.  239 

'No,  ma'am,"  he  answered,  with  a  blush,  as  he 
encountered  the  sweet  eyes  of  a  refined  lady  fixed 
upon  his. 

'While  you  were  sick,  you  took  me  for  your 
mamma;  and,  indeed,  if  the  love  and  gratitude  of 
one  who  has  not  the  sacred  name  of  mother  can 
supply  her  place,  I  shall  do  it.  I  am  the  mother  of 
James  Aldine,  whom  you  so  bravely  rescued."  And 
stooping  down,  Mrs.  Aldine  tenderly  kissed  the  little 
boy,  as  though,  indeed,  she  were  his  mother. 

To  say  that  Joe,  Harry,  and  Willie  were  happy,  is 
the  mildest  possible  way  of  expressing  their  senti- 
ments; they  were  beside  themselves.  Their  joy 
was  threatening  to  develop  into  uproariousness, 
when  the  infirmarian  very  wisely  ordered  them  to 
their  respective  dormitories. 

From  that  night  Tom's  improvement  was  rapid. 
He  soon  outstripped  James  in  the  race  for  health. 
While  Tom  bustled  in  and  out  of  the  infirmary, 
James  kept  his  bed,  his  wound  healing,  but  his 
cheeks  growing  thinner  and  paler  day  by  day. 

"I  say,  Jimmy,"  said  Tom,  about  one  week  from 
the  date  of  the  crisis,  "why  don't  you  eat  a  decent 
meal?" 

'I'm  not  hungry,  Tom." 

"That's  no  way  to  do;  eat,  anyhow;  you're  get- 
ting thinner  all  the  time." 

'I  know  it,  Tom;  and,  what  is  more,  I  believe  I 
shall  never  be  well  again." 

'  Nonsense!  Humbug!"  said  Tom  sturdily,  though 
his  cheek  blanched  as  he  spoke. 

'I  do  believe  it,  Tom,  and  I  have  reason.  The 
doctor  of  late  looks  troubled.  He  complains  that 
the  wound  isn't  healing  fast  enough.  And  mamma 


24°  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

knows  that  I  am  in  danger;  for  her  face  grows  very 
sad  when  she  thinks  I  am  not  looking  at  her;  and 
once,  after  she  had  spoken  with  the  doctor,  I  saw 
her  cry.  But  don't  think,  Tom,  that  I  am  anxious 
to  live;  I  had  rather  die,  for  I  am  ready.  Should  I 
live,  dear  Tom,  the  day  might  come  when  I  should 
fall  into  some  mortal  sin.  So  far  God  has  been  so 
good  to  me;  He  has  given  me  a  holy,  pious  mother, 
and  very  dear,  good  friends,"  he  pressed  Tom's  hand 
as  he  said  this,  "and,  by  His  grace,  has  kept  me 
out  of  all  dangerous  occasions.  So  I  am  happy  at 
the  thought  of  dying  now." 

"Well,  Jim,"  said  Tom,  with  the  tears  starting  to 
his  eyes,  "I  know  you  are  ready,  and  I  do  wish  I 
was  as  good  as  you.  You've  got  the  makings  of  an 
angel,  but  you  mustn't  die;  I  should  lose  my  dearest 
friend." 

1  No,  no;  indeed  you  won't,"  answered  James 
earnestly.  *  Please  God,  I  shall  be  your  friend  in 
another  world.  I  would  be  of  little  use  here;  but 
there  I  am  sure  I  could  help  you  far  better.  And, 
Tom,  I  am  not  sorry  to  die,  for  another  reason.  I 
don't  think  I  could  ever  be  happy  here  below. 
I  fret  about  things  so  easily.  The  least  thing  wor- 


ries me.' 


'Yes,  that's  so,"  admitted  Tom;  "you  do  fret 
about  things.  I'm  not  that  way  myself." 

Toward  evening  Mr.  Aldine,  who  had  been  East 
on  business,  arrived  at  the  college,  bringing  with 
him  Touzle. 

Touzle  entered  the  sick-room  dancing  with  joy, 
but  on  seeing  his  brother  so  pale  and  thin  he 
sobered  very  much. 

"Poor  Dimmy  is  sick,"  said  the  child,    running 


TOM  PLAYFAIR.  241 

his   fingers  through   James's   hair.      "Where's  the 
wed  on  your  cheeks,  Dimmy?" 

"Somebody  whitewashed  me,"  was  the  answer; 
but  Touzle  was  not  convinced. 

In  December  James  was  so  weak  that  he  was 
unable  to  leave  his  bed.  Tom  had  been  about  his 
class  duties  for  several  weeks,  but  whenever  he  was 
free  he  spent  his  time  at  the  sufferer's  side.  As  the 
boy  drew  nearer  the  grave,  his  spirit  seemed  to  draw 
closer  to  God.  At  times  the  light  of  sanctity  flick- 
ered upon  his  face — such  a  light  as  nothing  but 
exquisite  purity  and  exalted  holiness  can  enkindle. 

Nor  was  Tom  idle.  Christmas  was  to  be  the  day 
of  his  First  Communion.  With  all  his  resolute  will 
he  applied  himself  to  prepare  for  this  august  moment. 
Many  an  hour  would  he  spend  with  James,  speaking 
of  the  dearest  of  all  miracles,  the  miracle  of  Our 
Saviour's  ineffable  love.  At  night,  too,  he  would 
kneel  long  by  his  bed  praying  for  love  and  grace; 
and  the  boys  began  to  remark  that  instead  of  the 
dying  saint  Tom  had  arisen  in  his  stead. 

It  was  the  eve  of  the  great  day.  Just  before 
retiring  for  the  night  Tom  repaired  to  the  infirmary 
to  pay  a  last  visit  to  his  friend.  The  wan  face  of 
James  almost  glowed  with  joy  at  his  approach. 

"Oh,  Tom,  I'm  so  glad  to  see  you,"  he  said,  "for 
I  want  to  tell  you  the  news.  To-morrow,  Tom,  as 
you  go  to  Holy  Communion  for  the  first  time,  I 
shall  be  receiving  the  last  sacraments  of  the  Church. " 

Tom  was  not  dismayed;  he  had  long  expected 
this  news. 

"That  is  good,"  he  said;  "and  I  shall  offer  up 
all  my  communion  for  you." 

"Thank   you,   Tom;    you  are  too  good.      But  I 
16 


242  TOM  PLA  YFAIR. 

wish  now  to  tell  you  something  else.  Do  you  know 
why  I  expected  to  die  from  so  long  ago?" 

"Why?"  asked  Tom. 

'*  Because  when  you  were  so  sick  I  prayed  and 
prayed,  night  and  day,  that,  if  it  might  be,  God 
should  take  my  life  and  spare  yours.  I  knew  you 
would  be  of  some  use  in  the  world,  Tom,  but  I 
would  do  little.  So,  Tom,  you  must  try  to  do  your 
work,  and  mine  too;  and  that,  you  know,  is  little 
enough." 

Tom  was  weeping. 

4 1  am  very  glad  to  die,"  pursued  James.  "At 
first,  when  I  prayed  to  God,  I  was  a  little  afraid  of 
being  heard;  for  I  had  hoped,  Tom,  to  live  long 
enough  to  be  a  priest,  and  to  touch  with  my  poor 
hands  Our  Saviour  Himself.  I  intended  to  give  my 
life  to  God;  but  God  has  come  to  take  it  before 
I  can  give  it." 

Tom  was  still  weeping. 

'Mamma,"  said  James,  as  his  mother  came  up 
and  laid  her  head  beside  her  darling  boy's  cheek, 
'*  I  know  you  do  not  refuse  to  give  me  up  to  God." 

'  No,  my  darling;  if  I  loved  you  a  thousand  times 
more,  He  should  have  you." 

"I'm  so  glad,  mamma;  to-morrow  will  be  Christ- 
mas. Wouldn't  it  be  nice  were  I  to  die  then  ?  Then 
you  would  give  me  to  God  on  the  very  day  God 
gave  Himself  to  you." 

Tom  was  returning  from  the  communion  table, 
his  heart  beating  in  unison  with  the  heart  of  his 
sweet  Master,  his  radiant  soul  in  the  life-giving 
embraces  of  her  Spouse.  How  the  minutes  flew,  as 
he  knelt  in  earnest  commune  with  his  loving  Jesus! 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  243 

He  was  a  saint  that  morning — one  of  those  little 
children  whose  souls  are  the  glory  of  the  Sacred 
Heart.  How  long,  how  fervent,  had  been  his  prepa- 
ration! But  Tom  now  thanked  God  for  the  delay. 
His  soul  had  been  purified  by  trial.  And  now  that 
the  probation  was  over,  Tom  felt  that  he  had  been 
in  God's  hands.  It  was  truly  his  day  of  days. 

Thanksgiving  over,  he  hastened  to  the  infirmary. 
As  he  entered  the  room,  Mrs.  Aldine's  sobs  broke 
upon  his  ear.  He  hastened  to  the  bedside,  but  the 
gracious  eye  of  welcome  was  closed  forever.  A 
sweet  expression,  ineffably  sweet,  lingered  upon  the 
child's  face,  as  though  the  body  itself  had,  for  one 
last  moment,  shared  in  the  happiness  of  the  liberated 
spirit. 

'My  God,"  murmured  Tom  from  the  fulness  of 
his  heart,  as  he  threw  himself  on  his  knees  beside 
the  body,  "Jimmy  offered  himself  for  me.  Let  me 
take  his  place  in  life.  If  it  be  your  will,  my  God, 
I  from  this  day  give  myself  entirely  to  your  work." 


CHAPTER  XXVIII. 

AN  ESCAPE  FROM  JAIL,  AND  THE  BEGINNING  OF  A   SNOW- 
STORM. 

STILL  Christmas  morning!  In  a  narrow  room, 
lighted  by  one  close-barred  window,  was  Hart- 
nett,  worn  no  less  by  confinement  than  by  anxiety. 
His  face  had  grown  darker,  his  fierce  eyes  had  be- 
come bloodshot;  while  his  beard,  nails,  and  hair, 
long  neglected,  imparted  to  his  appearance  an  in- 
crease of  loathsomeness. 


244  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

Like  a   caged   tiger,    he   was    fiercely,   doggedly 
pacing  up  and  down  the  room.      Occasionally   he 
would  pause  to  catch  the  interchange  of  greetings 
from    the    passers-by  without.       They    were    merry 
words;  words  beautiful   in  themselves,  but  colored 
into  beauty   more  gracious  than  the  dawn  by  the 
infinite  Peace  and  Love  that  gave  them  birth;  words 
that  brought  back  again  that  undying  song  of  the 
angels,  that  song  of  gladness,  which,  ringing  down 
the  ages,  will  move  the  glad  echoes  of  the  human 
heart  till  this  world  shall  have  passed  away.    "  Merry 
Christmas!    Merry  Christmas!"    The  words  few,  the 
meaning   simple.      Yet,    link    them   with   the    glad 
smile,  the  bright  eye,  the  look  of  love,  the  warm 
pressure  of  the  hand, — and  what  a  wealth  of  meaning 
there   is  in  the  expression!     It  is  the  full-hearted 
utterance  of  human  sympathy,   kindness  and  love, 
raised   into  priceless  value  by  the  benediction  of 
Bethlehem's  Babe.     But  upon  the  prisoner's  heart, 
long  since  attuned  to  the  chords  of  anger  and  hatred, 
these  words  grated  harshly.     Muttering  maledictions 
upon  the  authors  of  these  cheery  greetings,  he  re- 
sumed his  weary  tramp, — not  blessed  on  this  thrice- 
blessed  day  by  so  small  a  gift  as  one  kind  thought. 
By  and  by,  a  key  from  without  rattled   in  the  lock, 
the  door  swung  open,  and  the  marshal  entered  the 
room. 

"Well,  Hartnett,"said  the  marshal,  "your  game's 
about  up." 

"What's  happened  now?" 

The  boy  you  stabbed  died  this  morning.  So 
to-morrow  you're  to  be  removed  to  the  jail  at  the 
county-seat,  if  you're  not  lynched  before  you  get 
there." 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  245 

The  prisoner  wiped  his  brow  with  his  sleeve,  his 
breathing  grew  short,  and  an  expression  of  abject 
fear  started  upon  his  face. 

'What  do  the  people  say  about  me?"  he  gasped. 

"There's  not  much  said;  they're  rather  quiet. 
But  their  way  of  looking  makes  me  reckon  that  you 
won't  get  out  of  this  jail  more'n  six  foot  before 
you're  in  the  hands  of  a  mighty  mad  crowd.  But  I 
guess  we'll  come  a  game  on  them.  We'll  take  you 
off  to-morrow  before  daylight,  before  folks  know 
what's  what." 

'When  are  you  coming  for  me?" 

'  Oh,  about  four  in  the  morning.  Anything  I  can 
do  for  you  ?" 

"No;  I'll  be  ready  when  you  come." 

"Ain't  you  sorry  that  boy  died?" 

No  answer  from  Hartnett. 

'Won't  you  feel  nervous-like  to-night,  with  that 
boy's  face  before  you  in  the  dark?" 

"See  here,  now,"  said  the  murderer,  "don't  try 
that  on  me.  You  needn't  try  to  get  me  frightened. 
The  boy  is  dead,  and  that's  an  end  of  it." 

The  prisoner  spoke  with  vehemence. 

"Well,  I  can't  wish  you  a  merry  Christmas,  but  I 
do  wish  that  you  may  come  to  realize  what  an  awful 
thing  you  have — " 

"Go  away!  Get  out!  Leave  me!"  shrieked 
Hartnett,  his  bloodshot  eyes  growing  hideous  with 
rage,  and  his  fingers  working  in  impotent  passion. 

"One  moment,"  said  the  marshal,  producing  a 
pair  of  handcuffs;  "here's  a  pair  of  bracelets  you 
might  as  well  try  on." 

"  Now  ?"  exclaimed  Hartnett,  aghast. 

"Why  not?" 


246  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 

"Can't  you  wait  till  to-morrow?"  he  exclaimed, 
drawing  back. 

;' Come  on;  now's  the  time!" 

"  Marshal,  I  haven't  asked  you  many  favors  since 
I've  been  here.  Please  let  me  go  free  till  we  start 
to-morrow;  it's  an  ugly  matter  to  have  those  affairs 
on,  and  I'd  like  to  put  it  off  as  long  as  possible." 

"Let's  see,"  said  the  official  dubiously. 

"Why,  I  can't  escape,  man.  Look  at  these  bare 
stone  walls — four  ugly  walls  and  a  wretched,  barred 
window;  and  that  dismal  low  roof  that  I  can  almost 
touch  with  my  hand." 

'Well,  all  right,"  said  the  marshal;  "but  remem- 
ber, on  they  go  the  first  thing  in  the  morning.  I'll 
leave  them  here  for  you  to  admire."  And,  carelessly 
tossing  the  handcuffs  on  the  prisoner's  bed,  the 
marshal  locked  himself  out.  Had  he  seen  the  lurk- 
ing smile  of  triumph  on  Hartnett's  face,  he  might 
have  reconsidered  his  favor. 

Hartnett  listened  intently  till  the  retreating  foot- 
steps had  become  inaudible;  then,  going  to  his  bed, 
he  turned  up  the  mattress,  and  inserting  his  hand 
into  a  small  opening,  drew  forth  a  slender,  steel, 
saw-like  instrument.  After  pausing  to  assure  him- 
self that  no  one  was  near,  he  climbed  up  one  of  the 
stone  walls  of  the  prison,  by  means  of  hardly  per- 
ceptible holes  made  for  his  feet,  till  his  hands  could 
reach  the  wooden  roof.  His  first  act  was  to  jerk 
from  the  ceiling  three  strips  of  black  cloth,  which, 
on  being  removed,  discovered  three  long,  narrow 
chinks,  plain  in  the  sunshine,  and  needing  only  a 
fourth  chink  to  make  a  hole  abundantly  large  enough 
for  his  escape.  The  work  already  done  had  cost 
him  days  and  nights  of  patient  labor,  his  instrument 


TOM  PLA  YFAIR.  247 

being  small  and,  in  appearance,  unsuited  for  the 
purpose.  He  put  himself  to  work  now  with  re- 
doubled energy.  Presently  the  beginning  of  the 
fourth  narrow  slit  appeared.  Half  an  hour  passed; 
hardly  a  quarter  of  an  inch  was  done,  and  two  feet 
to  be  cut  before  three  o'clock  of  the  next  morning. 
Hartnett  grew  nervous  at  the  thought,  and  pushed 
his  makeshift  saw  up  and  down  with  all  his  strength. 
Suddenly  there  was  a  sharp  snap — his  instrument 
had  broken.  In  the  agony  of  the  moment  Hartnett 
forgot  himself,  lost  his  hold,  and  fell  heavily  to  the 
floor,  where,  with  a  smothered  curse  still  lingering 
on  his  lips,  he  lay  for  some  minutes  stunned  and 
helpless.  But  the  sound  of  footsteps  without  soon 
brought  him  to  his  feet;  and  with  an  agility  won- 
derful under  the  circumstances,  he  again  clambered 
up  the  wall,  deftly  covered  the  betraying  chinks 
with  cloth,  then  lightly  dropped  to  the  floor. 

For  the  rest  of  the  day  he  passed  his  time  brood- 
ing and  sullen,  now  traversing  his  cell  with  hasty, 
impatient  strides,  now  tossing  restlessly  upon  his 
couch.  Darkness  at  length  came;  the  sounds  of  the 
day  died  away.  Toward  midnight,  perfect  quiet 
reigned.  Hartnett's  time  had  come.  With  the 
handcuffs  in  one  hand  he  again  mounted,  with  all 
his  strength  beat  them  against  the  part  he  had  par- 
tially cut  away.  One,  two,  three  heavy  blows  and 
the  wood  yielded  a  little.  Another  strong  blow, 
and  another ;  and  his  escape  was  secured.  A  moment 
later,  he  had  gained  the  roof,  leaped  to  the  ground, 
— then  skulked  through  the  village,  across  the  rail- 
road track,  out  into  the  great  undulating,  deserted 
prairie  beyond. 

Whither  he  was  going  he  knew  not.     But,  strange 


248  TOM  PLAY  FAIR. 

as  it  may  seem,  no  sooner  was  he  free  of  his  prison 
walls  than  an  overpowering  sense  of  terror  came 
upon  him.  Did  he  seek  the  lonely  prairie  of  his 
own  choice  ?  That  was  a  question  he  could  not  have 
answered  himself.  He  seemed  to  be  fleeing  from 
some  pursuing  evil.  It  might  have  been  the  bitter 
wind  of  the  chilling  night;  but  there  seemed  to  ring 
in  his  ear  a  dying  groan;  there  seemed  to  dance 
before  him  a  knife,  dripping  with  blood;  and  the 
wild  angry  jargon  of  many  voices  haunted  him  as 
though  a  horde  of  demons  were  at  his  heels.  The 
very  sky  was  dark  and  threatening;  and  strange, 
weird  shapes,  clad  in  the  sable  vesture  of  the  dead, 
sprang  up  at  every  step  before  his  startled  eyes. 
Hour  after  hour  passed  away,  and  still  he  pushed 
wildly,  madly  on,  his  face  quivering  with  fear  and 
horror.  With  the  first  streak  of  dawn  his  strength, 
thus  far  supported  by  terror,  deserted  him;  and 
coming  upon  a  lone  tree  standing  amid  the  vast  sol- 
itude of  the  prairie,  he  threw  himself  beneath  its 
shelter,  and  losing  his  night's  terror  in  the  splendor 
of  the  dawn,  fell  into  a  deep  sleep. 

Let  us  turn  from  this  wretch  to  the  side  of  the 
dead  child.  His  delicate,  fragile  hands  clasped  upon 
his  bosom  and  intertwined  with  the  beads  he  had  so 
loved  in  life,  his  face  calm  and  serene  and  telling  a 
tale  of  beatitude  immortal,  he  lay  in  his  white  coffin, 
surrounded  by  father,  mother,  and  little  playmates, 
subdued  into  unwonted  gentleness  as  they  entered 
the  chamber  where  death  had  dealt  his  kindliest 
stroke.  It  was  the  morning  after  Christmas,  and 
James,  it  had  been  decided,  was  then  to  be  buried. 

"Not,"  said  Mrs.  Aldine,  "that  I  am  tired  of 
gazing  upon  the  dear  face  of  my  angel  boy,  but 


TOM   PLA  YFAIR.  249 

because  death  in  a  house  where  so  many  boys  are 
together  would  keep  them  in  a  sadness  not  suited  to 
the  time." 

Mr.  Middleton,  who  had  been  James  Aldine's 
teacher,  spoke  a  few  last  words. 

He  told  the  students  of  the  child  Jesus;  of  His 
hidden  youth,  and  of  His  love  for  little  children. 
Then  he  narrated,  almost  in  the  beautiful  language 
of  the  Gospel,  the  story  of  how  Jesus,  when  He  was 
asked  by  the  apostles  who  was  the  greatest  in  the 
kingdom  of  heaven,  took  a  child  and  set  him  in 
their  midst.  "  And,"  he  continued,  "  when  I  consider 
the  little  I  have  seen  of  our  departed  brother's  life, 
when  I  recall  how  earnestly,  how  devoutly,  he  sought 
to  love  and  imitate  the  Sacred  Heart  of  Jesus,  it 
seems  to  me  that  such  a  one  as  this  must  our  Divine 
Lord  have  chosen  to  stand  in  the  midst  of  His 
apostles." 

Slowly  and  solemnly  the  students,  in  ordered  ranks, 
devoutly  reciting  the  rosary  as  they  moved,  walked 
from  the  college  toward  the  graveyard,  which  lay 
a  mile  or  so  out  upon  the  prairie.  As  they  neared 
the  newly-made  grave,  snow  began  to  fall  in  large 
flakes.  Before  the  burial  services  had  concluded 
the  storm  became  blinding  in  its  intensity.  Mr. 
Morton,  the  prefect  of  the  large  boys,  was  alarmed. 

"Boys, "he  said  in  a  loud  voice,  as  the  grave- 
diggers  were  completing  their  task,  and  the  students 
were  about  to  start  for  the  college,  "  I  warn  you,  on 
peril  of  your  lives,  not  to  disperse  on  the  road  back. 
This  promises  to  be  a  terrible  snow-storm,  and  were 
you  to  lose  your  way,  death  on  the  prairie  might  be 
the  result.  Form  into  ranks  as  before  and  I  will 
put  two  boys  who  know  the  prairie  best  at  the  head." 


250  TOM   PLA  YFAIR. 

It  was  very  happy  of  the  prefect  to  have  taken 
this  decisive  measure.  At  first  some  of  the  youthful 
wiseacres  grumbled,  but  when,  with  difficulty,  all 
had  arrived  safely  at  the  college,  it  was  generally 
acknowledged  that  any  other  course  might  have  led 
to  the  loss  of  life. 


CHAPTER   XXIX. 

END   OF   THE  SNOW-STORM. 

WHEN  Hartnett  awoke  he  found  himself  covered 
with  snow,  and,  hastily  rubbing  his  eyes,  dis- 
covered with  dismay  that  he  was  alone  on  the  track- 
less prairie  in  the  face  of  the  fiercest  and  most 
blinding  snow-storm  that  had  ever  come  under  his 
experience.  Starting  to  his  feet,  he  pushed  vigor- 
ously ahead.  But  whither  was  he  going?  He  could 
not  tell;  mortal  eye,  were  it  ever  so  strong  and 
steady,  could  not  have  pierced  the  snow-veil  which 
stretched  from  earth  to  sky.  Yet  he  must  go  on. 
To  stand  in  such  a  storm  were  to  perish.  As  he 
started  out  upon  this  enforced  tramp,  the  snow  was 
already  ankle-deep;  after  an  hour's  weary  walking 
it  had  deepened  several  inches.  But  it  was  a  tramp 
against  death,  and  as  the  echo  of  the  last  night's 
horrid  voices  rang  in  his  memory,  he  pushed  on  as 
though  the  whole  demon-world  were  at  his  back. 
Several  hours  passed,  and  finally  the  wanderer  came 
to  a  lone  tree.  One  look,  and  he  perceived  that  it 
was  the  tree  he  had  started  from. 

The  wild,  horrid  explosion  of  curses  that  burst 
from  his  lips  fell  idle  upon  the  dreadful  solitude, 
but  to  his  distorted  fancy  they  seemed  to  be  re-echoed 


TOM   PLAYFAIR.  251 

by  a  million  hideous  tongues;  and  more  affrighted 
than  ever,  he  set  forward  again.  Travel  had  now 
become  very  difficult.  At  times  he  would  fall  into 
a  snow-drift,  and  on  one  occasion  he  was  almost 
suffocated  before  he  could  free  himself.  As  the 
afternoon  advanced,  a  feeling  of  languor  stole  upon 
him;  his  senses  were  losing  their  sharpness.  This 
but  terrified  him  the  more,  for  he  knew  that,  should 
he  give  way  to  this  weakness,  he  was  lost.  On  he 
went,  then,  with  the  desperation  of  despair;  on,  on, 
till  darkness  closed  about  him;  on,  on,  till  the  rude 
wind  rose  and  howled  and  hooted  after  him,  and 
threw  itself  against  him;  on,  on,  till  the  voices  of 
the  night  were  changed  into  groans  and  shrieks  and 
dirges;  on,  on,  till,  weary,  frightened,  hopeless,  with 
his  stubbly  beard  and  hair  encrusted  with  ice,  his 
face  numb  with  cold,  he  fell  and  stumbled  over 
some  earth  slightly  raised  above  the  level, — fell  in 
such  a  manner  that  the  raised  earth  served  as  a  pil- 
low for  his  head.  The  feeling  of  languor  had  now 
become  a  positive  force;  he  would  not  rise  again — 
let  hell  or  heaven  do  its  worst,  he  cared  not.  Again 
there  rang  in  his  ears  a  wild  shout  as  of  demon  tri- 
umph. Despair  forced  him  once  more  to  open  his 
eyes.  Looking  straight  before  him,  he  saw — could 
it  be? — a  little  child,  clad  in  white  and  standing 
looking  down  upon  his  face.  Hartnett's  eyes  started 
in  terror;  an  expression  as  of  the  damned  came  over 
his  features,  and  with  a  low  groan  he  fell  back 
senseless. 

The  day  following  the  storm  Tom  with  his 
friends  obtained  permission  to  visit  James  Aldine's 
grave.  As  they  approached,  Harry  observed: 

"  Look  at  that  tombstone  standing  up  right  beside 


252  TOM   PLAYFAIR. 

Jimmy's  grave.  It  stands  there  all  in  white,  like 
the  ghost  of  a  child." 

'*  If  I  were  to  see  that  in  the  dark,"  observed  Joe, 
'  it  would  almost  scare  me  to  death." 

"My  God!  look  here!"  cried  Tom. 

Tom  had  just  removed  a  layer  of  snow  from 
Jimmy's  grave,  revealing  to  all  the  head  of  Hart- 
nett,  pale  in  death,  but  horrible,  despairing,  ghastly, 
— resting  on  the  grave  of  the  child  he  had  murdered. 


CHAPTER   XXX. 

CONCLUSION. 

rPHE  early  history  of  Tom  Playfair  is  told.  On 
1  the  day  he  made  his  First  Communion,  he  may 
be  said  to  have  "made  his  start"  in  life.  All  the 
events  dating  from  his  first  introduction  to  the 
reader  —  delay,  disappointment,  sorrow,  disaster — 
all  had  converged  into  the  shaping  and  perfecting 
of  that  "day  of  days,"  into  the  moulding  of  a  noble 
character. 

Tom  had  met  with  two  tragic  experiences  beyond 
the  lot  of  most  boys  of  his  years  and  condition  in 
life,  and  he  had  borne  them  bravely. 

He  had  suffered,  moreover,  a  bitter  trial, — none 
the  less  a  trial  that  it  was  in  part  self-imposed, — and 
his  act  of  obedience  had  purified  and  strengthened 
him. 

But  he  was  still  deficient;  the  evil  effects  of  his 
unequal  home-training  had  not  been  entirely  effaced. 
About  him  there  still  lingered  a  touch  of  forward- 
ness, and  the  shadow  of  a  boyish  irreverence  toward 


TOM  PLAYFATR.  253 

his  elders.  Mr.  Meadow's  influence  had  woven  it- 
self into  his  very  texture.  To  borrow  a  schoolboy's 
expressive  phrase,  he  was  somewhat  "fresh.''  He 
united  in  his  character  great  physical  and  great 
moral  courage,  but  the  sweet  modesty  and  gentleness 
which  impart  a  lustre  to  perfect  bravery  were  yet 
to  come.  He  was  a  manly  boy;  the  manliness  was 
rough  at  the  edges. 

On  the  last  day  of  the  school  year  Tom  tapped 
at  Mr.  Middleton's  door  to  exchange  a  few  words 
of  farewell. 

"  Ah,  Tom ;  I'm  glad  you've  come !  You're  always 
welcome,  but  now —  So  you're  going?" 

"Yes,  sir;  and  I've  come  to  ask  your  pardon,  Mr. 
Middleton,  for  all  the  trouble  I've  given  you.  You 
know,  sir,  I  can  hardly  help  wriggling;  and  it's  so 
hard  to  keep  quiet  four  hours  a  day,  when  there's 
such  a  good  chance  for  a  little  fun  sometimes; 
and  then,  sir,  I've  got  to  talk  sometimes, — I  can't 
hold  in." 

"Well,  Tom,  /haven't  complained,  have  I?" 

"No,  sir;  that's  the  way  you  make  me  feel  mean. 
You're  so  patient.  If  I  were  in  your  place,  I'd 
raise  a  row,  sure." 

"If  I  have  been  patient,  I  have  had  my  reward; 
for  I'm  glad  to  tell  you,  Tom,  that  your  improve- 
ment in  conduct  and  in  application  has  been  so 
steady  that  it  could  be  noticed  almost  each  week." 

"Thank  you,  sir,"  said  Tom,  blushing. 

Like  most  generous,  noble-hearted  boys,  he  was  a 
hero-worshipper ;  and  from  the  time  of  the  memorable 
interview  between  himself  and  Mr.  Middleton,  on 
the  day  that  Tom  and  Pitch  smoked  together,  his 
professor  had  been  his  hero.  Tom  had  been  con- 


254  TOM  PLAYFAIR. 

quered  by  kindness, — a  conquest,  it  is  scarcely  neces- 
sary to  say,  no  less  creditable  to  the  victor  than  to 
the  vanquished. 

He  had  issued  from  that  interview  Mr.  Middle- 
ton's  disciple;  and  a  faithful  disciple  he  had  been. 
No  wonder,  then,  that  his  chubby  cheeks  colored 
with  pleasure  at  these  kindly  words  of  commenda- 
tion. 

"You  remember,  Tom,"  continued  Mr.  Middleton, 
fixing  an  earnest  look  upon  the  little  lad,  'you 
remember  that  letter  I  sent  your  father,  nearty  two 
years  ago  ?" 

"I  shall  never  forget  it,  sir." 

"Well,  I  ventured  on  a  bold  prediction  in  it,  and 
I  have  not  been  disappointed." 

Tom  could  have  kissed  the  hand  extended  to  him; 
in  our  American  way,  he  squeezed  it  heartily. 

44 1  must  add,  though,"  continued  Mr.  Middleton, 
"that  you've  lost  a  friend  you  could  ill  spare." 

"  Jimmy  Aldine?" 

"  Yes;  he  had  a  gentleness  and  sweetness  of  dispo- 
sition which  exerted  a  marked  influence  upon  you 
for  good.  He  was  a  true  friend;  you  needed  such  a 
friend;  so  did  Harry  Quip.  You  and  Harry  have 
helped  each  other,  too;  but  James  Aldine  had  an 
influence  that  stepped  in  where  yours  and  Harry's 
stopped  short.  He  was  in  a  manner  a  visible  guard- 
ian angel  to  you  both." 

"  He  was  like  the  fairy  prince  I  read  about  the 
other  day  when  I  was  alone  in  the  infirmary  with  a 
sore  throat  and  didn't  know  what  to  do  with  myself," 
sighed  Tom.  "  I  got  thinking  of  him  when  I  was 
reading.  I  miss  him  very  much,  sir.  He  was  the 
nicest  boy  I  ever  met." 


TOM  PL  A  YF AIR.  255 

"Ah,  Tom,  if  you  could  find  another  friend  like 
him!" 

'Well,  sir,  I'm  young  yet,  and  there's  no  end  of 
good  boys  in  the  world,  if  a  fellow  could  only  find 
them  out.  Maybe  there'll  be  lots  of  nice  new  boys 
here  next  year." 

'Pray,  Tom,  pray  for  another  James  Aldine. " 

"I  will,  indeed,  sir." 

And  with  a  swelling  heart  he  bade  his  teacher 
farewell. 

On  that  very  day  a  Baltimore  gentleman  was 
bidding  farewell  to  his  daughters  and  an  only  son, 
the  "fairy  prince,"  who  were  departing  for  Cincin- 
nati, to  reside  there  with  their  aunt  while  their 
father  was  to  spend  the  summer  in  Europe  with  his 
invalid  wife.  This  was  the  beginning  of  events 
which  bore  closely  upon  the  conversation  just  re- 
corded and  upon  the  after-life  of  Tom. 

Knowing  nothing  of  this,  Tom  prayed  all  vaca- 
tion for  the  new  friend;  and  in  September  his  prayer 
was  heard. 

Those  of  my  readers  who  are  interested  in  Tom 
will  learn  in  "Percy  Wynn;  or,  Making  a  Boy  of 
Him,"  how  and  under  what  circumstances  he  met 
with  his  "  fairy  prince." 


THE   END. 


PRINTED  BY  BENZIGER  BROTHERS,  NEW  YORK. 


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WAY  OF  INTERIOR  PEACE.    By  Rev.  Father  DE  LEHEN,  SJ.        net,  i  25 

WAY  OF  SALVATION  AND  PERFECTION.  Meditations,  Pious  Reflec- 
tions, Spiritual  Treatises.  St.  ALPHONSUS  DE  LIGUORI.  net,  i  25 

WAY  OF  THE  CROSS.     Paper,  0.05;    100  copies,  2  50 

WORDS  OF  JESUS  CHRIST  DURING  HIS  PASSION.  Explained  in 
Their  Literal  and  Moral  Sense.  By  Rev.  F.  X.  SCHOUPPE,  SJ.  *o.2s;  100 
copies,  17  oo 

WORDS  OF  WISDOM.  A  Concordance  to  the  Sapiential  Books.  Edited  by 
RCA\  JOHN  J.  BELL.  net,  i  25 

YEAR  OF  THE  SACRED  HEART.  A  Thought  for  Every  Day  of  the  Year. 
ANNA  T.  SADLIER.  o  50 

YOUNG  GIRLS'  BOOK  OF  PIETY,  AT  SCHOOL  AND  AT  HOME.  A 
Prayer-book  for  Girls  in  Convent  Schools  and  Academies.  GOLDEN  SANDS. 

tr  oo 

ZEAL  IN  THE  WORK  OF  THE  MINISTRY;  The  Means  by  which  Every 
Priest  May  Render  His  Ministry  Honorable  and  Fruitful.  By  ABBE 
DUBOJS.  'net,  i  50 

7 


JUVENILES. 

ADVENTURES  CF  A  CASKET.  0  4j 

ADVENTURES  OF  A  FRENCH  CAPTAIN.  o  45 

AN  ADVENTURE  WITH  THE  APACHES.    By  GABRIEL  FERRY.  o  40 

ANTHONY.    A  Tale  of  the  Time  of  Charles  II.  of  England.  o  45 

ARMORER  OF  SOLINGEN.     By  WILLIAM   HERCHENBACH.  o  40 

BERTHA;  or,  Consequences  of  a  Fall.  o  45 

BEST  FOOT  FORWARD.     By  Father  FINN.  o  85 

BETTER  PART.  o  45 

BISTOURI.     By  A.  MELANDRI.  o  40 
BLACK  LADY,  AND   ROBIN  RED  BREAST.    By  CANON  SCHMID.        o  25 

BLANCHE  DE  MASSILLY.  o  45 

BLISSYLVANIA  POST-OFFICE.    By  MARION  AMES  TAGGART.  o  40 

BOYS  IN  THE  BLOCK.    By  MAURICE  F.  EGAN.  o  25 

BRIC-A-BRAC  DEALER.  o  45 

BUZZER'S  CHRISTMAS.    By  MARY  T.  WAGGAMAN.  o  25 

BY  BRANSCOME  RIVER.     By  MARION  AMES  TAGGART.  o  40 

CAKE  AND  THE  EASTER  EGGS.    By  CANON  SCHMID.  o  25 

CANARY  BIRD.     By  CANON  SCHMID.  o  45 

CAPTAIN   ROUGEMONT.  o  45 

CASSILDA;  or  the  Moorfsh  Princess.  o  45 

CAVE    BY    THE    BEECH    FORK,    THE.    By    Rev.    H.    S.    SPALDING,    S.J. 

Cloth,  o  85 

CLAUDE    LIGHTFOOT;    or,    How   the    Problem    Was    Solved.      By    Father 

FINN.  o  85 

COLLEGE  BOY,  A.    By  ANTHONY  YORKE.     Cloth,  o  85 

CONVERSATION  ON  HOME  EDUCATION.  o  45 

DIMPLING'S   SUCCESS.     By  CLARA  MULHOLLAND.  o  40 

EPISODES   OF   THE    PARIS   COMMUNE.    An   Account   of  the   Religious 

Persecution.  o  45 

ETHELRED    PRESTON;    or    the    Adventures    of    a    Newcomer.    By    Father 

FINN.  o  85 

E VERY-DAY  GIRL,  AN.    By  MARY  C.  CROWLEY.  o  40 

FATAL  DIAMONDS.     By  E.  C.  DONNELLY.  o  25 
FINN.  REV.  F.  J..  S.T.: 

HIS  FIRST  AND  LAST  APPEARANCE.    Illustrated.  i  oo 

THE   BEST   FOOT   FORWARD.  o  85 

THAT  FOOTBATJ,  GAME.  o  85 

ETHFLRED   PRESTON.  o  85 

CLAUDE  LTGHTFOOT.  o  85 

HARRY  DEE.  o  85 

TOM  PLAYFAIR.  o  85 

PERCY  WYNN.  o  83 

MOSTLY  BOYS.  o  85 

FISHERMAN'S  DAUGHTER.  o  45 

FIVE  O'CLOCK  STORIES;  or,  The  Old  Tales  Told  Again.  o  75 

FLOWER    OF    THE    FLOCK,    THE,    and    the    Badgers    of    Belmont.      By 

MAURICE  F.  EGAN.  o  85 

FRED'S  LITTLE  DAUGHTER.    By  SARA  TRAINER  SMITH.  o  40 

GERTRUDE'S  EXPERIENCE.  o  45 

GODFREY  THE  HERMIT.     By  CANON  SCHMID.  o  25 

GREAT-GRANDMOTHER'S   SECRET.  o  45 

HARRY  DEE;  or,  Working  it  Out.     By  Father  FINN.  085 

HEIR  OF  DREAMS,  AN.    By  SALLIE  MARGARET  O'MALLEV.  o  40 

HER  FATHER'S  RIGHT  HAND.  O  45 

8 


HIS  FIRST  AND  LAST  APPEARANCE.    By  Father  FINN.  i  oo 

HOP  BLOSSOMS.    By  CANON  SCHMID.  o  25 

HOSTAGE  OF  WAR,  A.    By  MARY  G.  BONESTEEL.  o  40 

HOW  THEY  WORKED  THEIR  WAY.    By  MAURICE  F.  EGAN.  o  75 

INUNDATION,  THE.    CANON  SCHMID.  o  40 

JACK  HILDRETH   ON   THE   NILE.    By   MARION  AMES  TAGGART.    Cloth, 

o  85 

JACK  O'  LANTERN.    By  MARY  T.  WAGGAMAN.  o  40 

KLONDIKE   PICNIC.    By   ELEANOR   C.    DONNELLY.  o  85 

LAMP  OF  THE  SANCTUARY.    By  Cardinal  WISEMAN.  o  25 

LEGENDS   OF   THE   HOLY    CHILD  JESUS   from   Many   Lands.       By  A. 

FOWLER  LUTZ.  o  75 

LITTLE  MISSY.    By  MARY  T.  WAGGAMAN.  o  40 

LOYAL  BLUE  AND  ROYAL  SCARLET.    By  MARION  A.  TAGGART.  o  85 

MADCAP  SET  AT  ST.  ANNE'S.    By  MARION  J.  BRUNOWE.  o  40 

MARCELLE.    A   True  Story.  o  45 

MASTER   FRIDOLIN.    By   EMMY   GIEHRL.  o  25 

MILLY  AVELING.    By  SARA  TRAINER  SMITH.    Cloth,  o  85 

MOSTLY  BOYS.     By  Father  FINN.  o  85 

MYSTERIOUS  DOORWAY.    By  ANNA  T.  SADLIER.  o  40 

MY   STRANGE   FRIEND.     By   Father   FINN.  o  25 

NAN  NOBODY.    By  MARY  T.  WAGGAMAN.  o  40 

OLD  CHARLMONT'S  SEED-BED.     By  SARA  TRAINER  SMITH.  o  40 

OLD  ROBBER'S  CASTLE.    By  CANON   SCHMID.  o  25 

OLIVE  AND  THE  LITTLE  CAKES.  o  45 

OVERSEER  OF   MAHLBOURG.     By  CANON   SCHMID.  o  25 

PANCHO  AND  PANCHITA.    By  MARY  E.  MANNIX.  o  40 

PAULINE  ARCHER.    By  ANNA  T.  SADLIER.  o  40 

PERCY  WYNN;  or,  Making  a  Boy  of  Him.     By  Father  FINN.  o  85 

PICKLE  AND  PEPPER.     By  ELLA  LORAINE  DORSEY.  o  85 

PRIEST  OF  AUVRIGNY.  o  45 

QUEEN'S  PAGE.    By  KATHARINE  TYNAN  HINKSON.  o  40 

RICHARD;  or,  Devotion  to  the  Stuarts.  045 

ROSE  BUSH.     By  CANON  SCHMID.  025 

SEA-GULL'S  ROCK.     By  J.  SANDEAU.  o  40 

SUMMER  AT  WOODVILLE.     By  ANNA  T.    SADLIER.  o  40 

TALES  AND  LEGENDS  OF  THE  MIDDLE  AGES.    F.  DE  CAPELLA.  o  75 

TAMING  OF  POLLY.    By  ELLA  LORAINE  DORSEY.  o  85 

THAT  FOOTBALL  GAME:  and  What  Came  of  It.     By  Father  FINN.  o  85 

THREE  GIRLS  AND  ESPECIALLY  ONE.    By  MARION  A.  TAGGART.  o  40 

THREE  LITTLE  KINGS.    By  EMMY  GIEHRL.  o  25 

TOM  PLAYFAIR;  or,  Making  a  Start.    By  Father  FINN.  o  85 

TOM'S  LUCKPOT.    By  MARY  T.   WAGGAMAN.  o  4o 

TREASURE  OF  NUGGET  MOUNTAIN.    By  M.  A.  TAGGART.  o  85 

VILLAGE  STEEPLE,  THE.  o  45 

WINNETOU,  THE  APACHE  KNIGHT.     By  MARION  AMES  TAGGART.  o  85 

WRONGFULLY  ACCUSED.    By  WILLIAM  HERCHENBACH.  o  40 

NOVELS   AND    STORIES. 

ASER,  THE  SHEPHERD.    A  Christmas  Story.    By  MARION  AMES  TAGGART. 

net,  o  35 

BEZALEEL.    A   Christmas   Story.     By   MARION  AMES  TAGGART.  net,  o  35 

CIRCUS  RIDER'S  DAUGHTER,  THE.    A  Novel.    By  F.  v.  BRACKEL.  i  25 

9 


CONNOR  D'ARCY'S  STRUGGLES.    A  Novel.    By  Mrs.  W.  M.  BERTHOLDS. 

DION  AND  THE  SIBYLS.    A  Classic  Novel.    By  MILES  KEON.    Cloth,    I  25 

FABIOLA;  or,  The  Church  of  the  Catacombs.  By  Cardinal  WISEMAN.  Pop- 
ular Illustrated  Edition,  0.90;  Edition  de  luxe,  5  oo 

FABIOLA'S  SISTERS.  A  Companion  Volume  to  Cardinal  Wiseman's 
"  Fabiola."  By  A.  C.  CLARKE.  i  25 

HEIRESS  OF  CRONENSTEIN,  THE.    By  the  Countess  HAHN-HAHN.  i  25 

IDOLS;  or,  The  Secrets  of  the  Rue  Chausee  d'Antin.     DE  NAVERY.  i  25 

LET  NO   MAN  PUT  ASUNDER.    A  Novel.    By  JOSEPH '.NE  MARIE.  i  oo 

LINKED  LIVES.    A  Novel.    By  Lady  GERTRUDE  DOUGLAS.  i  50 

MARCELLA  GRACE.  A  Novel.  By  ROSA  MULHOLLAND.  Illustrated  Edi- 
tion, i  25 

MISS  ERIN.    A  Novel.    By  M.  E.  FRANCIS.  i  25 

MONK'S  PARDON,  THE.  A  Historical  Novel  of  the  Time  of  Phillip  IV. 
of  Spain.  By  RAOUL  DE  NAVERY.  I  25 

MR.   BILLY  BUTTONS.    A  Novel.    By  WALTER  LECKY.  i  25 

OUTLAW  OF  CAMARGUE,  THE.    A  Novel.     By  A.  DE  LAMOTHE.  i  25 

PASSING  SHADOWS.    A  Novel.    By  ANTHONY  YORKE.  i  25 

PKRE  MONNIER'S  WARD.    A  Novel.    By  WALTER  LECKY.  i  23 

PKTRONILLA.     By  E.   C.  DONNELLY.  i  oo 

PRODIGAL'S  DAUGHTER,  THE.    By  LELIA  HARDIN  BUGG.  i  oo 

ROMANCE  OF  A  PLAYWRIGHT.    By  Vte.  HENRI  DE  BORNIER.  i  oo 

ROUND  TABLE  OF  THE  REPRESENTATIVE  AMERICAN  CATHOLIC 
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Cloth,  i  50 

TRUE  STORY  OF  MASTER  GERARD,  THE.    By  ANNA  T.  SADLIER.     i  25 
VOCATION   OF   EDWARD   CONWAY.    A   Novel.    By   MAURICE   F.   EGAN. 

i  25 
WOMAN  OF  FORTUNE,  A.     By  CHRISTIAN  REID.  i  25 

WORLD  WELL  LOST.    By  ESTHER  ROBERTSON.  o  75 


LIVES    AND   HISTORIES 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY  OF  ST.  IGNATIUS  LOYOLA.  Edited  by  J.  F.  X. 
O'CoNOR.  Cloth,  net,  i  25 

BLESSED  ONES  OF  1888,  THE.  Bl.  Clement  Maria  Hoffbauer,  C.SS.R.; 
Bl.  Louis  Marie  Grignon  de  Monfort;  Bl.  Brother  Aegidius  Mary  of  St. 
Joseph;  Bl.  Josephine  Mary  of  St.  Agnes.  From  the  original  by  ELIZA  A. 
DONNELLY.  With  Illustrations,  o  50 

HISTORIOGRAPHIA  ECCLESIASTICA  quam  Historic  seriam  Solidamque 
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AND  IRELAND.  By  WM.  COBBETT.  Cloth,  net,  0.50;  paper,  net,  o  25 

LETTERS  OF  ST.  ALPHONSUS  LIGUORI.  By  Rev.  EUGENE  GRIMM, 
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LIFE  OF  BLESSED  MARGARET  MARY.  By  Mgr.  BOUGAUD,  Bishop  of 
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LIFE  OF  ST.  CATHARINE  OF  SIENNA.     By  EDWARD  L.  AYME,  M.D.     |[i  oo 

LIFE  OF  ST.   CLARE  OF  MONTEFALCO.    LOCKE,  O.S.A.  net,  o  75 

LIFE  OF  THE  BLESSED  VIRGIN.  Illustrated.  By  Rev.  B.  ROHNER, 
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LASANCE.  «<?'.  i  5« 

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MARRIAGE  PROCESS  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES.  SMITH.  net,  2  50 

MORAL  PRINCIPLES  AND  MEDICAL  PRACTICE  THE  BASIS  OF 
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NEW  AND  OLD  SERMONS.  A  Repertory  of  Catholic  Pulpit  Eloquen-e. 
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OFFICE  OF  TENEBRAE,  THE.  Transposed  from  the  Gregorian  Chant 
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OUR  LORD,  THE  BLESSED  VIRGIN,  AND  THE  SAINTS,  SERMONS 
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PEW-RENT  RECEIPT  BOOK.  net,  i  oo 

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PRIEST  IN  THE  PULPIT,  THE.  A  Manual  of  Homiletics  and  Catechetics. 
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PRINCIPLES  OF  ANTHROPOLOGY  AND  BIOLOGY.  By  Rev.  T. 
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REGISTRUM   BAPTISMORUM.  net,  3  50 

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SACRED  HEART,  SIX  SERMONS  ON  DEVOTION  TO  THE.  By  Rev. 
Dr.  E.  BIERBAUM.  net,  o  60 

SANCTUARY  BOYS'  ILLUSTRATED  MANUAL.  Embracing  the  Cere- 
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SERMON   MANUSCRIPT   BOOK.  net,  2  oo 

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